New 2018 Audi e-tron to boast 150kW fast charging capability

Audi has revealed fresh details about its upcoming e-tron all-electric SUV, for which refundable £1,000 deposits are now being taken ahead of the Tesla Model X rival going fully on sale later this year.

While the original e-tron concept used a drivetrain consisting of three electric motors, the production model will feature just two, with one powering each axle. A 95kWh battery pack has been confirmed, made up of 36 shoebox style battery modules. The batteries are housed in the floor of the vehicle, which makes use of Audi"s C-BEV platform. 

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A revised all-electric range has been issued under new, stricter WLTP testing standards. Audi claims that the e-tron will be capable of over 249 miles on a single charge, though we"ll have to wait a little longer for some performance figures. On the charging front, Audi claims that the e-tron"s extensive thermal management system will enable the car to recharge at a Tesla Supercharger beating output of up to 150kW at DC charging stations. It means that at stations capable of charging at such a rate - such as the IONITY charging points currently being built by a wide group of European manufacturers - the e-tron will recharge from flat to 80 per cent in less than half an hour. 

Audi will also launch what it calls the e-tron Charging Service, which it says will grant buyers access to around 80 per cent of Europe"s charging points from launch, regardless of operator. Buyers will only have to carry one card - the e-tron card - rather than several for different charging suppliers. From mid-2019 onwards all e-tron models rolling off the firm"s Belgian production line won"t need the card at all, and will support a system called Plug & Charge. The system will automatically authenticate the car at the charging station. 

An 11kW home charger will be included as standard, enabling an 8.5 hour recharge. A 22kW system cuts this to 4.5 hours, and enables smart charging by selecting off-peak hours to recharge the vehicle if the owner desires.

The Jaguar I-Pace rivalling e-tron made a public debut of sorts at last month"s Geneva Motor Show, with nearly 250 liveried-up development prototypes appearing on the streets. It was a move to steal the limelight away from Audi"s British rival, which made its production-ready debut at the show.  

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The e-tron is the first vehicle in Audi"s all-out assault on the premium SUV market, with eight new high-riding models due to arrive before the end of the decade. It"s due to appear in production form in the second half of this year and our exclusive images reveal how it could look.

With China and the US also cited as significant markets for the car, it’s clear that Audi has the Tesla Model X in mind as its closest competitor, along with Jaguar’s I-Pace. As our images suggest, the production e-tron is set to be subtly toned down from the design of the concept first seen in 2015. With designer Marc Lichte determined to add more differentiation between models, the e-tron will feature a different front end shape to the Q5 and Q7, with a smaller, partially blanked grille and reshaped headlamps.

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Audi e-tron - front (watermarked)

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A broad shoulder line stretches the length of the SUV’s side profile, while a coupe-like rear end shape helps give it a sleeker look than other Audi SUVs. Aerodynamics are a big focus, as the firm looks to trump the I-Pace with a drag coefficient target of just 0.25Cd, maximising the battery’s range. Auto Express understands that the production car will be offered with ultra-slim, camera based wing mirrors to this effect.

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We’ve yet to see the interior, but we can expect design and tech influence to be taken from the latest A8. The brand’s Virtual Cockpit will be adapted to show details of range, power usage and charging times, while the dual-screen infotainment set-up from the A8 could also feature. We’d expect level-three autonomous technology to be offered as well, at least as an option. Despite the coupe-like roofline, the e-tron is likely to feature five seats, and its boot space should be similar to a Q5’s.

The SUV sits on an adapted version of the MLB platform that underpins the Q5 and Q7. Power outputs are still under wraps, although we know the concept claimed to produce 496bhp and 800Nm of torque, translating to a Model X-rivalling 0-62mph sprint time of 4.5 seconds.

It’s possible that Audi will adopt Tesla’s strategy of offering a number of power outputs, allowing a competitive entry price as well as more expensive performance variants. However, the 95kWh limit seems like the maximum output due to space constraints, so any further e-tron models using the C-BEV platform will likely feature smaller battery packs and boast more affordble price tags. 

Would you pick the Audi e-tron over the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace? Let us know in the comments section below...