If you’re holding out for an electric SUV, this is great news.
A lot of us have been waiting for this: An electric car that can do all we need: take the kids to school, the dog to the groomer, me to the trail head, all of us through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. As much as we would love to do that in any of the electric cars introduced so far, it’s not always practical. Most electric cars are designed for a smaller number of people and a shorter drive route. I’m not being critical, either; sometimes it takes baby steps to get to the big kahuna.
This week Audi introduced the much-awaited all electric Audi e-tron electric SUV, a sleek, modern SUV with all the DNA Audi buyers love. As the e-tron rolled out on stage, Audi executives touted how the e-tron will do all those things and more, including towing boats and thrilling speed-seekers.
The Audi e-tron joins only two other electric SUVs: The Jaguar i-Pace and the Tesla X, both smartly positioned for the family, the adventurer, people who need to haul both cargo and crew.
200+ Mile Electric Range: An EV Built For How You Drive
I often drive a hundred or more miles in a day just hitting all the necessary stops. And, on those stops I collect things—kids from school, the rug the dog peed on from the cleaners, tail gate party supplies from Costco—so I need both range and space. The Audi e-tron promises the range, 200+ miles, and it has the space and all wheel drive capability that we came to love in the brand’s Q5 SUV.
And, it recharges quickly. As is the current industry standard, it should recharge 80% of the battery in 30 minutes via a DC fast charger.
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Early Adopters Rejoice: There is Plenty to Adopt
The Audi e-tron is filled with all sorts of new technology: A newly designed gear selector that feels more like an electronic lever and less like a gear shift, a wireless phone charger pad and a dual-screen center console that holds all the car’s controls.
Probably the biggest wow, though, is the ‘virtual mirror’ side-view mirror that is really a camera and video screen in the front door panel rather than a typical side view mirror. This actually adds to the e-tron’s EV capability by making it more aerodynamic; without the heft of a side view mirror the e-tron has less wind resistance.
Batteries That Go the Distance, and Then Some
This idea of decreasing wind resistance extends to the car’s battery pack, which which is stored in compartments on the floor of the car’s frame and closed off to reduce wind friction. These packs are able to store enough power to drive 200 miles, perhaps more. Audi has achieved the 200 mile mark in its testing, but official EPA estimates are a few months away.
However, Audi North America president Scott Keogh noted that, as is typical with electric cars, during testing the e-tron’s regenerative braking, which recaptures energy expended during braking and high speed cruising, to increase the range to more than 200 miles. And when the engine was put under heavier stress, such as climbing hilly roads, it used more energy. Again, typical for an electric car.
What This Car Will Cost
The Audi e-tron will make its way into dealerships in the spring of 2019. And as it will fit right into the lineup of SUVs on the sales floor, its pricing will fit right in, too. The e-tron’s base model is called Premium Plus ($74,800) and includes heated seats, premium sound and a wireless phone charging pad. Taking it up a notch, the Prestige model ($81,800) adds massaging front seats and head up display; and the first 999 customers can buy the Edition One model ($86,700) which is even more loaded and outfitted with exclusive exterior design details.
Yes, this is a luxury car, but there are still price breaks: financial benefits to buying an electric car include federal tax deductions of up to $7,500, state tax benefits and potential benefits from your electric service provider. Add to that the fact that some Audi buyers will benefit from free charging via Audi’s Electrify America charging infrastructure, which just announced a $2 billion investment to build 500 charging stations in 40 states, including 160 in California.
Why Electric, Why Audi and Why Now?
Electric is the future for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the recent diesel cheating scandal that has rocked the auto world. Audi hasn’t escaped unscathed, and in fact, Bram Schot who introduced the Audi e-tron did so under the title of Temporary CEO of Audi. But he acknowledged, as all car makers have recently, that they have messed up and are trying to correct things.
Part of that is listening to customers and giving them what they want. And what we want is to skip the gas station, contribute to a cleaner earth, and to fuel our cars on our own time and terms. Understanding this and giving this to us, in a car that can haul our kids, our cargo and our newly-cleaned rug, makes us a little happier and a lot more forgiving.
Disclosure: I was Audi’s guest for the reveal of the Audi e-tron; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.