Audi today unveiled its first mass-market electric auto, the e-tron quattro, at an event in San Francisco. A recipe tried by Audi before, now in different wrapping, the e-tron is supposed to be the first in a long line of electric vehicles.
All aim to expand the market for premium electric vehicles and also to grab share of that market from Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which has had the niche largely to itself.
Audi say the e-tron's range will be around 250 miles, helped by clever tech that uses throttle and brake inputs to decide how to slow the vehicle using a combination of brakes and motors to regenerate the maximum energy, helping maintain charge in the 95kWh battery pack. If more power is summoned or if the system detects wheel slippage, the e-tron will automatically activate its front electric motor.
The range is on par with the e-tron's closest competitor, the Tesla Model X, which promises as many as 295 miles of range with a full battery.
"We see charging installation as a very important business", Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon Home Services, said at Audi's launch event in San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Center.
From navigation with the e-tron route planner, which displays the appropriate route with the required charging points, automated billing at the charging station and all the way to remote control via smartphone - the Audi e-tron is extremely well connected.
However, Audi's charging infrastructure pales in comparison to Tesla's. The company is partnering with Electrify America on building out a charging network across popular retail sites.
Inside the e-tron's cabin, two centrally mounted control touch screens - one 10.1 inches and the other 8.6 inches - are used for the infotainment system and cabin controls, while the instrument cluster features a version of Audi's adaptable screen display, allowing a more integrated map with Google Earth images.
Audi will present the first beneficiary of another e-platform by the end of 2018: the Audi e-tron GT concept showcar.
Instead, it will have a camera on each side where mirrors would ordinarily be. The image is displayed on each side of the interior, and while they're more aerodynamic and can cut noise, they also pose other potential issues and are not yet allowed by US regulators.
The e-tron's two electric motors - one in the front and one in the rear - drive all four wheels.
BMW took a concept version of its electric vehicle on tour this week, inviting reporters in Munich, New York, San Francisco, and Beijing to see it inside of a Lufthansa cargo plane.
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