German auto-giant Audi has announced its first fully-electric production vehicle, named the e-tron. For those familiar with the brand, the ‘e-tron’ moniker will ring bells as Audi has used the name before – most notably for a concept car that was an electrified version of their hugely successful R8 supercar and also on their Le Mans-winning R18 Hybrid race-car. Now, the technicians at Ingolstadt have set their gaze on EVs for the road and the e-tron SUV is the result.
From the outside, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish the e-tron from any of the rest of Audi’s range of SUVs and crossovers which range from the boxy city-oriented Q1 to the muscular beast that is the Q8. With styling cues that blend in seamlessly with Audi’s current design language, the e-tron appears to sit squarely in the middle of the SUV size spectrum and promises to be able to seat five passengers in luxurious quality. Unlike the Tesla Model X with its futuristic appearance and ‘falcon’ doors, the e-tron appears to be aiming to be inconspicuous and understated.
The all-electric power train of the e-tron is what makes it a first for the brand, and a potential Tesla-fighter. With a combined power output in the region of 350 horsepower driving all four wheels, a 250-mile battery range and a high-wattage fast charging system, the e-tron appears to deliver in terms of performance and usability. Audi engineers have also made use of regenerative braking to recoup kinetic energy that is normally wasted. Whether these technical developments can help Audi take the fight to the Model X, Jaguar’s I-Pace, or the recently announce Mercedes-Benz ECQ, is yet to be seen.
Initially set to be released first in VAG’s domestic European market, the e-tron is set to be available on sale in the UAE and Middle Eastern marketplace from mid-2019. With Audi’s already-established dealer network in the region coupled with both a demand for luxury SUVs in the Middle East and a global demand for electric cars, the e-tron is likely to see a strong level of success despite prices starting in Europe from around AED 339,000.