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Frankfurt show: Audi set to flick the switch on ‘Q6’

Making the switch: Audi is jumping feet first into the electric vehicle market with a battery powered SUV that is due to go into mass production by 2018.

Audi’s e-tron concept confirmed for production – and could get 512kW ‘RS’ version

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Audi logo20 Aug 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

AUDI has confirmed it is preparing to go after the hi-po electric-SUV market within three years with its first mass-produced full-electric vehicle.

Dubbed Q6 by the European motoring media, the four-seat, coupe-style crossover e-tron wagon will be shown in concept form at next month’s Frankfurt motor show.

The vehicle reportedly will come in two states of tune: a standard e-tron for everyday driving and a high-performance RS version, called R-tron, with an estimated 521kW of power in short bursts – not far short of American electric sportscar specialist Tesla’s most powerful model, the Model S P85D that has two motors with combined power of 568kW.

Audi promises the three-motor EV will have a “potential” driving range of more than 500km and will be built from the ground up as a battery powered vehicle.

The vehicle will slot into the Audi SUV range between the new-generation Q5 – due in production in Mexico in late 2016 – and the latest Q7 that is just coming off the boats in Australia now.

Audi is calling the vehicle e-tron quattro, meaning it has a form of all-wheel drive that, rather than the traditional driveshaft and differential arrangement, has electric motors on the front and rear axles driving all wheels in what Audi calls ‘electrified quattro’.

The vehicle will have one motor at the front and two at the back in a powertrain drawing on technology pioneered in the rear-wheel-drive Audi R8 e-tron sportscar.

While the all-electric version of the R8 might well beat the e-tron SUV into production, it is expected to be produced in a limited production run, unlike the series production e-tron wagon.

With e-tron, the Ingolstadt company is claiming a world record in aerodynamics for an SUV, with a drag coefficient of 0.25Cd, thanks to moveable elements at the front and sides, as well as a completely closed underbody.

The moveable elements apparently include an air suspension that lowers the body closer to the road above 80km/h. At the same time, a rear spoiler and diffuser are deployed.

German publication Auto Bild says the Korean-supplied lithium-ion battery pack with an energy content of between 90 and 95kWh will be located between the axles in a drawer arrangement for easy access.

It quotes Audi chief development officer Ulrich Hackenberg as saying Audi is aiming for a sub-4.0-second 0-100km/h acceleration time and a driving range of “significantly more than 500km on a single charge”.

“And not on paper, but in practice,” Mr Hackenberg reportedly said.

The R8 e-tron that was shown at the Geneva motor show has 340kW of power and 920Nm of torque from its two rear-axle motors, pushing the two-door coupe from zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds.

The battery pack of the SUV concept is expected to weigh about 650kg, and while the low centre of gravity will aid handling, the overall weight of the e-tron will be pushed to almost 2.5 tonnes. The pack will be cooled by air channelled through vents.

Images of the e-tron’s interior show space-age controls based on organic-LED (OLED) screens that apparently deliver 3D images. These represent Audi’s latest take on a modern interior, following in the footsteps of similar layouts shown in the company’s Prologue series of concept cars.

It is unclear where the Audi EV will be built, but an Audi executive was quoted two years ago as saying a Q6 might be built alongside the Q5 at the new Mexican plant.

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