Audi e-tron celebrates global debut in San Francisco – brand’s first series production, all-electric SUV

Audi e-tron celebrates global debut in San Francisco – brand’s first series production, all-electric SUV

It’s been some time since Audi first revealed the e-tron quattro concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Fast forward a couple of years, and we’re live at the official global debut of the brand’s first series production, all-electric SUV finally in San Francisco, California in the United States.

From a styling perspective, the final product remains rather faithful to the concept, with many cues being carried over or lightly tweaked. At the front, the brand’s Singleframe grille covers an active shutter system that opens or closes depending on whether more cooling is required.

The grille is flanked by sleek headlamps that are segmented to create a lighting signature that is unique to the e-tron. In the lower apron, angled creases create a channel that funnels air through corner air curtains to help cool the brakes, while a wide lower intake also helps facilitate the cooling of other systems.

Viewed from the side, pronounced haunches meet a low shoulder line to emphasis the quattro aspect of the vehicle, joined by a sloped roofline that leads into a steeply-raked rear window. The two ports bearing the e-tron’s name on either side of the vehicle open up to reveal the vehicle’s charging ports.

Audi e-tron celebrates global debut in San Francisco – brand’s first series production, all-electric SUV

A big talking point here is the e-tron’s virtual exterior mirrors that use cameras linked to OLED displays inside the cabin. We were told that this optional piece of equipment was part of the original development process and not an afterthought, translating to a rather well-integrated system.

Drivers can interact with the OLED displays via touch to “pan” around, with illuminated light bars acting as both indicators and an alert for the car’s blind spot monitor.

The virtual exterior mirrors aren’t just meant to look cool either, as they help contribute to reducing drag as well. Along with a dimpled underfloor and the overall shape of the SUV, Audi claims a 0.27 drag coefficient.

As for the rear, the T-shaped taillights are linked by a light bar, a look that is similar to what you might find on recent Audis like the A8, and emphasises the width of the vehicle.

Audi e-tron celebrates global debut in San Francisco – brand’s first series production, all-electric SUV

Moving inside, the driver-focused cabin has many of the car’s interfaces angled towards the driver, including the displays for the MMI touch response infotainment system.

As seen on recent Audi models, a dual-touchscreen setup is present here, with the upper unit being the main unit for a variety of functions. The lower unit acts as a support by displaying other information like the climate control settings and switches to a medium for inputting text/handwriting.

Audi’s virtual cockpit and heads-up display are present as well, while the lack of conventional prop shaft means there’s no stowage space in the centre console. Other aspects of the centre console are the trigger-like gear lever that doubles as a wristpad for the lower touchscreen when performing inputs. It also sports ambient lighting that is part of a system involving on the doors and backlit badge on the dash.

Powertrain-wise, the e-tron is powered by a 95 kWh battery that is made up of 36 modules, each featuring 12 60 Ah cells. The battery structure was developed with an integrated crash structure for safety, and employs four cooling circuits to ensure the cells are in their optimal operational temperature. These cooling solutions include a special thermo conductive adhesive and gel, the latter filling each module slot.

Audi e-tron celebrates global debut in San Francisco – brand’s first series production, all-electric SUV

The battery operates on a 400-volt electrical system, sending power to two electric motors (one on each axle). For the front axle, the drive unit comprises of the motor, power electronics and single-speed gearbox, with a rated output of 168 hp (125 kW).

Audi employed a modular approach for the motor in the rear axle, which is larger in size but shares some components with the frontal unit. The direct drive setup at the back outputs 188 hp (140 kW), and when paired with the front, results in an electric quattro setup and total output of 355 hp (265 kW) and 561 Nm of torque – labelled as the e-tron 55 quattro.

The 0-100 km/h sprint is completed in 6.6 seconds, but the e-tron also comes with a boost mode that temporarily increases output to 402 hp (300 kW) and 664 Nm for a few seconds, with 13 hp (10 kW) at the front and 34 hp (25 kW) at the rear. Within that window, the century sprint time drops to 5.7 seconds. The company claims a range of over 400 km following the WLTP method of testing.

According to the German automaker, the e-tron is more than just a vehicle, as it represents the start of a new e-offensive that encompasses how it will build its vehicles moving forward as well as its approach to vehicle charging.

In the case of the e-tron, Audi offers two home AC charging solutions, beginning with the Charging System Compact that is rated at up to 11 kW for European markets, whereby a full charge will be met in about 8.5 hours. Alternatively, the US market gets the same unit but pegged at 9.6 kW (less than 10 hours for a full charge).

For something more advanced, there’s the Charging System Connect that is marked at up to 22 kW, so a full charge arrives in about 4.5 hours. As its name suggests, the Charging System Connect is linked to the myAudi app, allowing owners to set their desired charge level or coordinate a charging plan based on departure times.

The two aforementioned charging solutions employ the Type 2 connector but as e-tron supports the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard, fast charging via DC current is possible as well. When plugged into a 150 kW public fast charging station, Audi claims an 80% charge, or 400 km of range, can be obtained in about 30 minutes.

The company has also devised a simple, one contract solution called the e-tron Charging Service, allowing customers in Europe to have access to over 72,000 charging points from 220 different operators with just one RFID card. Operators partnered with Audi for charging facilities include Electrify America in the US and Ionity in Europe, with both expected to hit over 400 stations by 2020.

Audi e-tron celebrates global debut in San Francisco – brand’s first series production, all-electric SUV

The e-tron will be built at Audi’s 8,500 square feet facility in Brussels, Belgium, which has undergone improvements to produce the electric SUV. It now features areas for battery module and electric motor assembly, while a modular production method does away with the traditional conveyor system.

Automated guided vehicles now move the electric drive axles to necessary stations as required, allowing more flexibility and quicker implementation – a benefit of the modular nature of Audi’s electric drive systems.

For the US market, the e-tron is priced at US$74,800 to US$86,700, with the most expensive model being a limited-to-999-units special edition that comes with a unique Daytona Grey exterior paint, 21-inch Edition One wheel with brake calipers painted in e-tron Orange, and Edition One puddle lighting.

GALLERY: Audi e-tron official photos

GALLERY: Audi Tech Park

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.



  • Lets See on Sep 18, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Hah! Let’s see if Hyundai copies this high heel shoe headlights as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  • Veyron Owner on Sep 18, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Somehow this Pic 36 reminds me of a bathroom mirror, shower heating unit, and an electric shaver/wall phone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • Audi lover on Sep 19, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Honda City dashboard?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
  • Imelda on Sep 19, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Many do not buy Audi in Malaysia

    Car likes Audi and BMW got NO RV in Malaysia
    especially Audi with waterfall RV

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • Sometimes i do even think about EV. I wonder why car manufacturers doesnt add up some tiny solar panel as in term of eco friendly and additional for charging battery if some places dont have a plug-in station for charging.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • stastasta on Sep 19, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      i agree in principle, although am not an engineer. 10 hours of bright sunlight should provide decent additional range.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • In car park hierarchy, rich pipu cars park indoors while poor pipu cars park outdoors. Solar panel will be a waste on these rich pipu cars then.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Why A5 and S5 Sportback not bring in Malaysia?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  • Paranoid After Spirituality on Sep 19, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Yet another electric vehicle based on recycled conventional car crossover design lacking on space and over-weight!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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