Following the debut of the e-tron prototype at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, the new Audi e-tron production model is set to be unveiled at the San Francisco Audi Brand Summit on 18 September.
The prototype stage is the next phase of the car’s development. Taking learnings from the concept car, the e-tron’s design has been refined, its systems developed and its technologies perfected to create a fully road-going version that can be put through its paces in final tests before going on sale as a production car.
A total of 250 prototypes are currently being tested in four continents. When done, they will have completed more than 5,000,000 km in an estimated 85,000 hours of testing, with 20 being tested in Arctic Lapland, to be pushed to their limits in the extreme cold. Testing under such challenging conditions means we can be sure that the demands that the first customers of the Audi e-tron who live in more comfortable conditions will be amply met.
When it comes to accelerating, braking and cruising, the extremes of Lapland provoke driving behaviours that vastly exceed anything the Audi e-tron may encounter in normal traffic. Its quattro technology was put under particular scrutiny. In the new e-tron prototype, the all-wheel-drive system is, for the first time, freely regulated by the car’s two electric motors. To calculate how much power to deliver each of the wheels, software processes over 400 signals from sensors all around the car, 200 times every second. Ensuring the best possible handling – whether on a frozen lake, or on a trip to the shops.
Launch control was an important feature put to the test in the cold. Typical for an electric vehicle, the e-tron protoype generates torque almost instantly, meaning there is virtually no delay between pressing the accelerator and moving off. In fact, with the motors producing up to 300kW of power – that’s 400PS, almost as much as our RS models – the e-tron production model is predicted to sprint from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds.
This meant developing new launch control systems for the e-tron prototype to distribute this instant torque safely and efficiently. Tests proved that using this technology, the tyres of the e-tron prototype could gain their grip faster and, even on the icy surfaces of Lapland, could be driven off from stand-still with power, without slipping. So here at home, you can be sure of safe starts, whatever the conditions.
The e-tron prototype’s lithium-ion battery stores up to 95kWh of energy. To ensure that it meets the demands of any extremes it may encounter in more temperate climates, various scenarios were played out under the extremes of the Swedish north. From leaving an e-tron prototype with varying low battery charges out overnight to see how it starts next morning, to charging the battery in the extreme cold – tests proved that even at very low temperatures, the reliability of the battery is assured.
As with the concept car, the Audi e-tron prototype can be charged with up to 150kW of power at fast-charging stations; this means it’s ready for a long-distance trip within 30 minutes – and it can be fully charged within 50 minutes. In addition to fast charging with direct current (DC), Audi’s electric SUV can be charged at home and on the move with AC up to 11kW.
Trips can also be planned on the myAudi app or directly in the car where the vehicle displays route options and charge points. The navigation system within the vehicle takes into consideration the battery’s charge, traffic and includes the required charging time as part of its planning and arrival communication.
With Virtual Cockpit and a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, the e-tron prototype features the best of Audi cabin technology. But, for the first time, it also has the option of new virtual door mirrors. Outside, cameras take the place of traditional glass mirrors, streaming footage to 7-inch OLED displays fitted into the inside of both front doors. Using touch screen controls, the virtual mirror cameras can be adjusted, zoomed and moved to adapt to your driving situation; not just enhancing your experience of the e-tron prototype, but also improving your safety.