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Paris show: Audi starts e-tron production

Under there: Audi board member for production Peter Kossler and Brussels factory managing director Patrick Danau check out the first e-tron to roll off the production line.

EV war heats up as Audi starts e-tron production ahead of formal launch

5 Sep 2018

WHILE Mercedes-Benz was pulling out all the stops to show off its first EQC electric crossover vehicle in Stockholm, rival Audi was getting on with business 1500km to the south, in Belgium, where the first electric e-tron SUV was rolling off the Brussels production line.
Similar in concept to the EQC, the five-seat e-tron quattro EV will be formally unveiled in San Francisco on September 17 in a global launch beamed to the world on the internet.
Both vehicles appear likely to land in Australia in the second half of 2019, setting up an intriguing heavy-weight luxury EV battle that will also involve Tesla’s Model X, Jaguar’s I-Pace and – potentially – the BMW iX3 that was unveiled in concept form at the Beijing motor show in April.
The e-tron and EQC both have twin electric motors – one on each of the front and rear axles – and batteries stored under the floor.
From the drip-feed of information to date, we know the Audi is supposed to have a driving range of more than 400km on a 95kWh battery.
Mercedes-Benz is saying its EQC 400 4Matic has a range of more than 450km from its 80kWh lithium-ion battery.
The two rival vehicles appear to have similar maximum power – 300kW – but the Benz edges the e-tron on torque, 765Nm to 664Nm, which might explain why Mercedes is saying the EQC can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds compared with the e-tron’s “less than six seconds”.
The e-tron can only achieve maximum power and torque in Boost mode for eight seconds, before returning to the standard driving mode that delivers 265kW and 561Nm.
However, it can go faster – 200km/h against the EQC’s governed 180km/h.
The e-tron also appears to be faster to charge, taking just 30 minutes with a 150kW charger. Mercedes says its EQC can get to 80 per cent in 40 minutes.
Mercedes has confirmed that its car also has a form of two electric drive modes. At low and medium loads, the front electric motor operates alone to increase efficiency, but when the driver wants to accelerate harder, the rear motor kicks in for maximum drive.
Audi says it has been working since 2016 to prepare the Brussels factory – a one-time Volkswagen Golf plant – for production of the e-tron.
The company claims the plant will be the first carbon-neutral mass production facility in the premium car segment.
Audi board member for production and logistics Peter Kossler was on hand to greet the first production e-tron as it was driven silently off the production line that previously built Audi’s A1.
Apart from major changes to the paint shop, body shop and production line, the factory has gained a battery production facility with a driverless transport system to bring the batteries to the assembly line in sequence.
Much of the electricity used at the plant is supplied by a huge solar panel array on the roof.
Audi will broadcast the world premiere of the Audi e-tron in San Francisco live on September 17 at 13:30 AEST at www.e-tron.audi.

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