2019 Audi E-Tron First Drive: A Move For The Mainstream

DEC 7 2018 BY BRADLEY BERMAN 130

Audi hopes to reach a whole new audience of buyers with an EV that feels right at home. 

A group of auto journalists gathered this week in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates to drive the Audi e-tron, the German luxury brand’s first all-electric vehicle. The 250-mile journey in Abu Dhabi – starting at the eco-oasis of Masdar City and passing by camel farms and through sand dunes – revealed Audi’s audacious EV strategy: to produce an utterly normal luxury crossover.


InsideEVs was among the first group to experience the e-tron. From the moment I settled into the electric SUV’s handsome cabin and pressed my right foot heavily into the accelerator pedal, I could see that Audi had flipped the script on electric vehicles. The response from the 400-horsepower powertrain – with two motors, one on each axle – was not the twitchy reaction that we have come to expect from an EV. The power is certainly palpable, but it comes on with polite confidence that refrains from jolting the vehicle’s inhabitants back into their seats. This EV doesn’t launch. It gushes.

 

“Our goal was not to out-Tesla Tesla.”

 

The driver-selected handling and suspension modes, from Comfort to Dynamic, should be renamed as Smooth, Smoother, and Super-Silky Smoothest. Again, Audi is betting its multi-billion-dollar EV investment on normalcy and ease of use. In that sense, the e-tron SUV ushers in the next phase of electric vehicles in which familiar driving behavior and vaunted auto brand attributes are the highest virtues. For an Audi SUV, that means comfort, cargo space, reliability, and all-road capability. Sorry fellow early EV adopters, it’s time that we step aside to make room for legions of less ardent everyday drivers.

“Our goal was not to out-Tesla Tesla,” said Carter Balkcom, Audi’s Ingolstadt-based product marketing manager for electric vehicles on the eve of our first drive. “It’s to build on the strengths of being Audi.” To Balkcom, that also means high-quality manufacturing, sales, and service. “Maybe you’re a guy that says my Tesla breaks down all the time, so I’m ready for Audi’s answer to EVs,” he told me. Ouch.

 

Quiet Confidence

The 100-mile morning leg of our drive was a straight-ahead highway stint to the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, a marvelous piece of architecture (see the e-tron parked in front of it below). Cruising to get there at between about 50 to 85 miles per hour down a monotonous sunbaked roadway, the Audi electric crossover’s most remarkable features were not novel innovations that smacked you in the face but subtleties that escape notice. Most notably, the e-tron to my ear is the quietest electric car yet.

Thomas Stinner, an automotive acoustics engineer at Audi, said, “When you are in the e-tron, you are sitting in a sealed cabin. In an electric car, you can’t have a single hole for sound to escape.” Then he delivered an impromptu personal TED talk about the e-tron’s multi-layer windows, quiet motors, the use of foam to fill gaps in wheel wells, and strategies to kill some frequencies at some speeds while allowing others to survive at other speeds for driver feedback. He talked about audio pitches that can reach the footwell but not human ears. All these strategies, Stinner explained, were applied to the unique acoustic profiles for road noise, tire noise, engine noise, and wind noise. The strategy worked so well that Audi does not use active noise cancelation from the e-tron’s speakers.

By late morning we had reached the foot of Jebel Hafeet, the craggy limestone peak that rises 4,000 feet from the desert. Edmunds.com once dubbed the drive up Jebel Hafeet’s summit as one of “the world’s greatest driving roads.” The e-tron was undaunted by the ascent. It handled the switchbacks with aplomb.

The few minutes to the top were arguably the most useful evaluation of what a typical driver of an electric Audi crossover might experience in a road trip to, for example, Lake Tahoe. Like the e-tron’s official numbers for sprints from zero to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) – it’s officially 5.7 seconds – there’s more power here than any typical driver needs.

The same holds true for the off-road rocky trails and windswept sand dunes we traversed later in the day. The five-passenger e-tron, which is between the size of a Q5 and Q7 SUV and equipped with 23.3 cubic feet of luggage capacity not including the 2.1 cubic-foot front trunk, is more likely to be making treks to soccer practice and weekend trips to Costco than the rugged locales of Eastern Arabia. It can handle both.


Compromises for Mass Appeal

After recuperating energy on the way back down the hill, we arrived at the Desert Learning Centre with 27 percent of the battery’s nominal 95 kilowatt-hours of charge. Audi provided a makeshift 150-kW quick charger there to demonstrate how the e-tron’s battery allows for true road trips. Highway pit stops of about 30 minutes can restore about 180 miles of driving range.

Of course, this capability will require the new breed of public chargers only starting to be installed by Electrify America, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group. Because the temporary setup in Abu Dhabi lacked the liquid-cooled cabling required for a full 150 kilowatt of charging, our test car needed nearly an hour to restore its total amount of range, pegged at 248.5 miles in the WLTP driving cycle (and not yet officially range-rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Here’s where things get tricky. Audi acknowledged that the official numbers for range will be less than 248.5 miles – possibly around 230 to 240 miles. For an EV with a nominal 95-kWh pack, it’s becoming clear that the e-tron could be one of the least efficient of the new breed of long-range EVs. Our day of driving put the e-tron SUV’s efficiency at about two miles per kilowatt hour.

“I don’t think the customer cares about the absolute efficiency number,” said Matthew Mostafaei, Audi E-Tron vehicle manager. “There are a number of other factors that are more important.” 

Mostafaei said that Audi responded to direct customer feedback that their priority is a normal-looking, upright SUV with optimal cargo capacity. Audi believes that the efficiency number is also less important than adding a relatively heavy safety cage and being very conservative with the amount of the battery’s capacity that’s used. It’s part of the same strategy to mainstream EVs. Using less of the battery’s energy (officially rated at 95 kWh) means that quick-charging happens faster because you are never cramming the last electrons into the pack.  “It’s the fastest EV to 80 percent on the market,” said Mostafaei.

Gallery: Audi E-Tron Outside & In

The Audi e-tron in Abu Dhabi,
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Color: Siam beige
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The Audi e-tron in Abu Dhabi,
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Color: Galaxy blue

I asked him if he can live with a lower MPGe than what competitors offer and the potential negative reaction from EV enthusiasts. He replied, “I think we have to live with it if we are going to give a customer everything that the e-tron offers them.” Mostafaei told me that some of the auto journalists on the e-tron drive in Abu Dhabi could barely tell the difference from being in a Audi Q8 SUV with a gas engine and an e-tron with an electric motor. That, in a nutshell, was Audi’s goal – even if it means taking heat for a lower MPGe number. The e-tron is still a ton more efficient than a Q8-type vehicle.

 

The End of One-Pedal EV Driving?

In essence, to bring electric vehicles to the masses, Audi will ignore some of the efficiency-obsessed predilections of long-time EV enthusiasts, including me. It also means killing long-held EV doctrine – such as the sacred cow of one-pedal driving.

With the Muslim call to prayer echoing outside my door as I type these words, I remember what happened the first time I lifted my foot off the e-tron’s accelerator. With essentially no discernible regen, the vehicle felt like it was sailing away from me. Where’s my regen, dudes?

Throughout the rest of the day’s drive, I came to re-learn and appreciate using the brake pedal. Audi’s Carter Balkcom winked at me and said, “Brake without guilt. One-pedal braking is a thing of the past.”

Gallery: Audi E-Tron Off Road

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In what I see as Audi’s most clever technology innovation, the desirable level of added regen in the e-tron is not controlled by shifting the car into Low, applying a special mode setting, or using a steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifter. The e-tron repositions the level of added regen to the foot-controlled brake pedal where it can be applied with much higher variability – just like you use a gas or brake pedal in a gas-powered car.

We will provide a lot more technical background about how this works in later posts. But the important thing for the e-tron and the other Audi electric cars on the way is that everyday drivers won’t have to be converted to the ways of one-pedal driving or any special insiders’ way to buy, own, or drive the vehicle. They will get all the EV benefits, including the refined feeling of controlling an electric car’s speed, by simply stepping on the accelerator and brake pedals like they already do.

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130 Comments on "2019 Audi E-Tron First Drive: A Move For The Mainstream"

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Thanks for a good read.

I am really surprised why Audi would skip 1-peddle driving. Have they tried it?
It is like heaven!
Increased re-gen on the brake-paddle is rather normal, so i am interested in hearing how Audi could make it differently?

You can still one pedal drive by switching to a different setting using the paddles. But it’s not neccessary. I have only driven the ZOE and the new Leaf. From my POV, it not only has benefits to drive with one pedal. You have to hold your foot in the exactly right position to cruise at a constant speed. In coasting mode, you just push to 50 km/h and then switch regen on at the next traffic light. But instead of switching on regen, you apply the brakes in the e-tron.

For the difference: From what I understand, the Audi basically has brake by wire. So in normal use, the brake pedal is not physically connected to the hydraulic brakes. In most other EVs you can only apply so much pressure before the hydraulics are applied. The e-tron is supposed to push that point much further out.

I agree, the one-pedal-behavior can be exhausting, because you have to keep your foot on the accelerator quite often. I regularly switch between i3 and Zoe and I have to say, I prefer the Zoe setting. A one pedal-setting requires a paddle behind the steering to reduce the recuperation intensity for highway driving. If the recuperation is controlled by the brake pedal the intensity can be controlled gradually. What I would wish for the Zoe is a signal or a haptic feeling on the brake to indicate when the friction brake is joining in. In my opinion braking functions shall be controlled by the brake and not by the accelerator.

I prefer the i3’s true one-pedal driving including the ability to stop completely without pressing the brake pedal except when a greater deceleration rate than is possible with regen is needed. The regen power is totally controlled by the position of the power pedal, so there’s no need for paddles, regen mode switches, etc. KISS!

Just as humans have been able to learn to move their feet to apply the appropriate propulsive power, they are able to learn move their feet to apply the appropriate regen power to decelerate.

I guess you never heard of cruise control?

Just try it, it work great and it’s relaxing.

🚗… Cruise control does not stop a car ‼️

In Tesla it does. If there is an obstacle, Tesla stops (from any speed where cruise control is available). This mode is offered in addition to autopilot, and is handy for winter driving as autopilot is not available if it can not recognise lanes clearly enough, eg snowy road.

In Tesla and lot of other new cars. In near future, this technology will be mainstream. In fact, Europe wants to make this systems mandatory soon.

It’s called Traffic-aware Cruise Control (TACC). Look into it.

I don’t get it… how is that any more “exhausting” (pardon the pun) than how it’s always been (in gasoline cars)? Unless using cruise control, you have always had to keep your foot on the accelerator to stay at constant speed.

It’s the gliding with foot-off that is more comfortable for highway use as the terrain changes. Heavy foot-off regen is more useful in city traffic.

But brake by wire is the real innovation here, because you can now program any mode the driver wants (well Audi didn’t, but it could be done). Conventional, high regen, combos… all in the software.

I still don’t get it… I use TACC when I want comfort on the highway, or AutoPilot when I want to sleep (just kidding, I mean grab a drink or check the map). When cruise is not suitable, I actually find it more comfortable to not have to move my leg between pedals. I don’t know why anybody would want *more* pedals to deal with.

Tesla and Volt sound analogous to i3 and Zoe. The only I haven’t driven is Zoe. i3 has the smallest “sweet spot” for regen, and I would call it the most potentially frustrating to maintain. Car is light, >3k pounds. Tesla weighs the most, it regens at 60KW (I’ve witnessed much lighter Volt reach 45KW). It also ajustable, but has no brake pedal regan.

Above said, I’d still strongly prefer one-pedal over the brake. I think Audi races cars (/s). They should know the split second it takes to go over to a brake pedal is a nice chunk of convenient time to get back, when someone ahead of you hits their brakes. Tesla’s, and many others, works so well in traffic (Where Audi might also have tested. /s). What impresses me most, is how smoothly auto-pilot incorporates all of the above and consistently slows the car.

Audi talks smack, Tesla doesn’t deserve on reliability. Decades of experience says the opposite. They must be hoping for those customers who won’t seek out a Tesla sales center, which can admittedly be hard to find.

Also new from Audi… now their gasoline-powered cars will feature simulated clutch pedals and stick shift levers as inputs into the automatic transmission. “Two-pedal driving is a thing of the past!”, says Audi spokesman, “Now you must work all three pedals to make the car move!”.

Don’t laugh… with a controlled electric drive you could simulate manual transmission operation in software. Add a “clutch” pedal, which is just a switch, a “shift lever” switch, and you could simulate manual transmission driving for those who want the sports car experience, all without stalling, bad shifts or grinding gears! Turns your daily EV driver into a weekend sports car by selecting the mode.

You might find that odd, but this the kind of feature that could get diehard petrolheads and driving enthusiasts more excited about converting to EVs.

Meh… pointless anachrony.

This is like diesel-electric train locomotive engineers being given plastic shovels and piles of fake coal to scoop into a “boiler” in the back of their engine cabs, all as part of some simulation to simply keep the diesel throttle open.

Besides, what you’re describing is not a “sports car experience” — it’s an *old-fashioned sports car* experience, also known as “nostalgia”. Electric cars are the modern sports car.

Glad to hear it drives as well as it looks. I wonder if the D.O.T. has gotten around to allowing the rear view camera use here yet, anyone know?

Assuming you are asking about the side view lane-change camera use, that would be a big no so far.

Uh, oh, no One-pedal driving, no deal.

Truly a marvel of a car!

The Marvel is just how arrogant the Audi guy is in the article.

Ever been to Ingolstadt? I can tell you these are the most arrogant people in the car business. Therefore they produced cheat-diesel cars till april 2018. And EVERYBODY knew what was going on.

A Marvel of a Car ? / .. It Appears to Be Pretty Big & Clumsy to me…* 🙁 * ..*

My Tesla never breaks down and if I am not mistaken Audi’s and VW’s are notorious for having electrical problems.

Yeah that was annoying in the article. I have had my S for 2 years and not had a single problem.

My 2008 Audi 2.0T’s turbo failed at 80k, it ate through brakes at an alarming rate and burned 1 qt of synthetic oil every month. Truly a piece of junk.

Same with VW. And it is not that I mind stuff breaking down. It’s the ‘VW’ attitude: ‘Sorry sir, but you are apparently driving the car in the wrong way. No guarantee, you have to pay’!

Never had electrical problems, but had to change a dual mass flywheel, brake parts, exhaust and a timing belt. Mostly normal wear and corrotion . . And I just hate dual mass flywheels. Expensive to replace. Had to change on my Ford too. I’d prefer a diesel engine that sounds like a tractor, just so I don’t have to think about dual mass flywheels. That is of course no problem if you lease a car.

I know they had central locking parts and electric window parts that was crap on at least two models in the late 80ies, or early 90ies.
In general they have average to good quality. Brands like Toyota, Subaru and Porsche are among the best.

The point of a flywheel on a car is lost for me. Is it something in the transmission componentry?

Yes, clutch.

Keep the engine rotating smoothly and providing uniform torque between power strokes in neutral or when clutch is disengaged and a surface for the clutch to grip.
https://youtu.be/7K4W4hA6aV4 (engineering explained)

Notorious?

All the people who had parts fall off their Tesla’s because it rained are very envious of you…

Like any car maker, there are certainly some problems, but in general at this point most manufacturers have figured out how to make cars. My own experience with 4 Audi’s has been that they all ran great and needed very little repair if maintained, but the few rare repairs cost enough that they required the same budget as my Ford and Chevy driving friends.

I can’t speak for VW, but 3 friends can. Two claim less repairs than American cars, the third used to drive Toyota and says the quality is pretty much the same.

The thing I find interesting is that from the way “Tesla or nothing” types talk about VAG cars going EV, I think you are all terrified….

“Most car companies will probably become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.
Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi, are completely terrified of Tesla.”
Dieter Zetsche, CEO Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, July 2017.
>https://goldenageofgaia.com/2017/07/28/288896/<

I am simply not excited by inefficient EV’s that make me beholden to fast chargers and a return to the gas station model. It’s silly and outdated. Bravo to Tesla for making the 3 incredibly efficient.

Right. The 200 mile range is underwhelming. I am looking for a second electric car and the only compelling option on the market taking into account design, size, range and price is the Model 3. I just can’t justify a sedan to replace my 2005 Prius as surf car (First World problems). I’ll wait for the Model Y.

Yeah there is something to be said for not compromising all styling for aero, and eventually I think batteries will be advanced enough to get away with that. but we aren’t there yet. 230 miles of range in optimal conditions just doesn’t cut it. That will be 150 miles in heavy winter.
Right now you still want efficiency. Tesla and others (Hyundai/Kia) has shown us that can be done without making the cars look weird.

Makes you wonder what their efficiency would be if they deleted that grill.

Almost nonexistent difference. First the trailing edge is more important, and second, the entire car has to go through the air no matter what.

See for example the Sonata and the Model S, which have identical drag coefficients.

The Tesla only people need to get over this hurdle. Car makers actually do know how to make cars.

https://www.greencarcongress.com/2018/05/20180530-audi.html

They boast fastest charging, but the low efficiency totally nixes that in terms of range gained… Pretty sad.

Funny how they are trying to spin the excessive weight as a necessary trade-off — when in truth it’s obvious that it’s simply a result of it being a modified combustion car, rather than developed as a BEV from scratch. Once they get their MEB-based models out, they will be boasting how they managed to improve efficiency without compromising on anything… 😛

Still, it’s a start. I’m sure it’s good enough for a lot of people to get it instead of some stinky combustion car 🙂

This is the car whose roll-out specs featured “700kg” (1,545 pounds) as the battery weight. And don’t forget the heavy safety “cage”, they tell us.

I’m sure I’ll love the interior. There’s that..

Great review, for probing right where everybody eventually will.

This reply^ Audi is from a maker to brag of 600 mile range cars, that have multiple fueling options, and it somehow believes a 230 mile EV will suffice where there are few? That makes no sense. 200 miles can work for lots of people, but to not be closer to 300 miles with this much storage, tisk, tisk.

They ‘dis Tesla. So, just going to be honest here.

What etron mimics is Tesla’s range-locked cars, like the 60’s. Between charge window restriction and poor MPGe, Audi may be hoping to keep its customers in gas cars. All Tesla would have to do, to copy the low-taper fast charging, is cut charging off before the taper begins and deny owners around ~30-40 miles of range.

200 Mile range?

Best guess is that will come in around low 230s.

Maybe Dubai is a little hard on the aircon power usage?

Have a deposit on this car even though Audi are getting arrogant on spec and pricing. This is not a cheap car, and if the real range is in I-Pace territory I’ll be first out. 200 miles range just does not do it for £80K. Better to have a Hyundai Kona and a cheaper utility car, than this e-tron, unless image is vital. I suspect many early adopters are thinking the same, despite the quality and attractiveness of the car. Pragmatism rules form.

Get your money back. It’ll be less than 234 miles.

Absolutely right. Stunning car by a lot of terms, not range.
For a 100km drive at speed 120km/h you will need at least 29kwh.

If you don’t see the value in the interior, you should get the Kona, agreed.

But first decide if the interior matters. Go to a dealer and sit in the Q8 and ask yourself if that is worth the price difference. Then you will know.

That primer gray color is not the most photogenic.

Agreed but these non-metallic grey/white/beige tones are wildly popular at the moment….

Better than the matte version that looked like actual primer that was the rage on Audi cars a year or so ago….

235 miles with a 95kwh battery is pretty disappointing. And I really hope Audi will give its customers some software based choice as to whether or not they allow one-pedal driving …

Sure not everything needs to take off like a rocket, and different styles and approaches are certainly welcome.
The Tesla models are not a be and end all for evs just as the Model T wasn’t for the ice, though Tesla’s models may have an extended run of dominance similar to the Model T, in their segments. About a decade.

They exist for 6 or 7 years, without making much money, if they don’t gain momentum it’s not going to be good for them.

I am sorry, who exists without making much money, for six or seven years? I don’t understand at all. You can’t mean Tesla, they are bigger than Daimler, Ford, BMW in market capitalization. Audi has been around a long time. Who isn’t gaining momentum? I’m completely lost. Ford? They don’t sell or make or service the Model T any more.

Yep, that’s about right.

“I don’t think the customer cares about the absolute efficiency number,” BS.
for one, it limits this vehicle to ~200 miles (US EPA)
for another, my PHEV gets 5 mi/kWh and costs $.05/mile on electricity. On gas it is ~$.08/mile. At 2 mi/kWh in the E-Tron, it is cheaper to drive a gas car (at least at US gas prices). You’re going to have a hard time getting people to switch if they are going to have to pay MORE per mile to drive an EV than their gas car. You’ve just negated one of the major benefits of driving an EV.

Fuel/energy economy with €80k car! That’s not the main reason for people buying this electric car. Not even model 3. That’s the reason people buy a Renault Zoe.

I think people will spend €80K on a truly luxurious car. These days, what defines luxury? How do you define it?
My money is on Jaguar’s iPace out-selling this Audi. I’ve already seen one spinning around town where I live, and that just blew me away.

Everyone is different, and efficiency (translates to cost) IS one of the main reasons I bought a Model 3. My 3 costs me $0.03 per mile to fuel, and replaced a gas mobile that was costing me $0.12 per mile, so I’m saving $0.09 per mile in fuel alone. I drive 50k miles per year, which means my 3 will save me $18k in fuel over the next 4 years and 200k miles.

Plus, it’s incredibly fun to drive! 🙂

Nobody buy $80K+ SUV to “save money”..

Your Model 3 may be 1,400 pounds lighter than this etron.

an E-Tron EV for €80k or a loaded Q5 for €60k that costs less to drive. The only motivation to buy the EV would be reduced emissions. That will cost you €20k+ I’ll pass.

If you think the Q5 costs less to drive, you are buying gas for $1.15 a gallon.

You’re absolutely right that most people don’t care much about the efficiency of their luxury cars. But that is because in a gas car it really doesn’t matter. So you put in an extra 5 gallons when you fill up and spend an extra 30 seconds. No big deal.
In an EV it’s different. Efficiency is the difference between needing to stop to charge for 30 min every 2.5 hours vs every 3.5 hours. That’s quite a big difference. The cost is not the problem, it’s the time to charge.

Weird commend, a Zoe is absolutey not an efficient car when we talk about fuel economy.

you must be the few people in the world that buys $80K+ luxury vehicle and calculate cost per miles…

People who buy Prius will upgrade to Tesla.

People who buy Prius will never buy Audi regardless how efficient it is and Audi may not care.

Very true about customers wanting efficiency. If only available in CARB states, where power is more expensive, there will be a number of near 20 cent KWhs. Near 2 miles per KWh, you aren’t far from gas.

4 miles per KWh is fairly realistic, and a huge difference other EVs approach.

I am confused as to why people think that because someone can afford and want a luxury vehicle, that they would not care about efficiency. They are independent variables.

2018 (US) – college educated, wealthy individuals are concerned about the environment. They are not the Robber Barons of the past. They have taken science classes. They are concerned about battery production environmental damage as well as electricity generation issues. Their roof doesn’t work for solar and they understand issues with intermittent production.

Personally – I would not buy an Ipace or this given the efficiency. These cars are fantastic examples of how the legacy car makers just don’t get it. Efficiency is part of the game regardless of fuel type. Being EV doesn’t excuse you of all sins.

Just last week, I was discussing efficiency, cost and payback of a Model 3 with someone who makes $500k a year and lives in a paid off $500k house. Currently drives a GTI and wife has a 1 series – so there is that. Not an etron candidate but still focused on cost to fuel. Super conservative politically.

Yes, they are concerned about environment. That is why they are switching out their Q5 with E-Tron. But they are NOT going to squeeze every drop of efficiency out of their ride.

Even with 2 miles/kWh, it is still more than 2x more efficient than their comparable gasoline version.

But see, many still doubt that EVs are that much better. And a horribly inefficient EV isn’t that much better. Efficient truly doesn’t matter. Cost and environmental damage do. But in 2018, efficiency is still the best way to minimize the other two.
Making a slower and less efficient vehicle is pretty bad. I am sure that many people (even most) won’t care.

You can say BS, and maybe it matters to you. It won’t matter to many. It’s that simple. If efficiency mattered, nobody could sell trucks. They are among the most popular vehicles sold.

And if you think it is cheaper to drive a similar car using gas, you live somewhere gas is unbelievably cheap and electricity is expensive! Granted I am doing the math in my head, but the current Q7 must cost about 0.13/mile at my local stations prices. I am not sure how you are figuring this out….

At 2mi/kWh and my electricity prices (Silicon Valley, CA), that is 0.125/mile. At my gas prices that Q5 (my original comparison) costs 0.131/mile. Granted USA gas is much cheaper than Europe, however even at double the gas prices you’d have to put well over 100k miles to get back the €20k premium you paid on a E-Tron.

Well – I didn’t say that it would be more expensive than gas. The vehicle will presumably be at least $5k more than an equivalent gasser. If because of horrible efficiency, it only saves $500 a year, then it is a hard sell to those that do TCO calculations. And – in CA and parts of the NE, it might not save a dime.
None of this is the end all be all. But efficiency still matters.
Some might be looking to the end of gasoline and resale value. Others might be anticipating higher electric rates – which only increases the importance of efficiency.

I just talked to an Audi representative at the Fort Worth Auto Show. He said that there was going to be an e-Tron at the Audi dealership in Fort Worth for one day only on Monday, December 10th. He also said that after the showing they were going to start taking reservations for the e-Tron!!!

I was surprised he knew anything about the e-Tron, much less that they were going to have one at the dealership and would start taking reservations. He said that the reservation included a build order. He said once the build order was completed you could start tracking the build at the German factory.

It looks like availability of the e-Tron in the United States is breaking and not just in compliance states. I not really in a position to place an order right now but I really would like to see this car. If any of you want to place an order for an e-Tron, now might be the time to do it.

Well, with a planned production of 50,000 per year for such a high-priced vehicle, I think it’s pretty obvious it’s not meant to be a compliance car only…

“tracking the build at the German factory.”

Just a detail, the E-tron is build at a dedicated Audi factory in Brussels BE.

From the article:
“Mostafaei said that Audi responded to direct customer feedback that their priority is a normal-looking, upright SUV with optimal cargo capacity.”

YES! A normal looking car/SUV that doesn’t scream I’m an EV! (Tesla and Prius are examples of cars that scream they’re EVs.)

Perhaps you’ll rig up a wooden horse to be pushed in front of your horseless carriage? Wouldn’t want to alert the neighbors that you’ve given up using horses!

That analogy is poor. Horse and cart are totally different to a car, but a car with a different drivetrain is still a car.

It’s pretty clear Audi are going after the mainstream market here, not the enthusiast/first adopter buyers that permeate insideEVs.

I’d guess their market research is probably far more accurate than a self selecting group of people on a niche website.

Tesla also has safe styling, doesn’t scream EV at all.

> Brake without guilt. One-pedal braking is a thing of the past.

Crossing it off my list.

Having a car that actively brakes when you’re not accellerating makes as much sense as a car that turns left when you’re not turning right.

I prefer discrete controls for accelleration and braking, as long as regeneration is automatically coordinated with the pedal. I don’t know why Tesla and Jaguar can’t get it right, even Ford can integrate regen with the brake pedal.

It really shows that you never drove one. I do every day and can’t tell you how nice it is in city driving. I would not buy a car without it.

I have, and it’s great for urban traffic battles… But it’s not so nice on long highway drives where glide is appreciated when momentarily lifting off to reposition you foot or reach for something.

The conclusion is that both modes must be available and selectable in a successful EV. Sadly Audi chose not to do that here, even though the underlying enabling functionality is there.

This is what I don’t like about automatic transmission cars. And don’t ever want to drive them. Let go the gas pedal and nothing happens. I have been driving manual transmission all my life and now EVs are a natural replacement for me because of how similar they feel. Let go the gas pedal — engine braking slows down the car. Touch the gas pedal — the car responds. With an automatic you get nothing in either case. I definitely don’t want that in my EV!

Really depends on the car. I have an automatic and I drive like the manual you mention, lifting off coming up to corners and letting the car slow down, before putting my foot back on the accelerator pedal.

Bad analogy. It is like when you turn the car right and let go of the steering wheel it goes back to center. It is much more natural to have 1 pedal acceleration/deceleration.

What actually really annoys me with my i3 is the steering doesn’t want to center naturally, so I have to turn it back. When I drive my wife’s Clarity I find it annoying the same thing doesn’t happen with the accelerator, and have to move my foot to the brake.

Like the Manual/Automatic argument I foresee the one pedal braking argument continuing for the next few decades. Some will love it, some will hate it. Both methods have advantages and both methods have disadvantages, it’s up to the perso to decide which is preferred based on the useage of their vehicle.

I want my brakes to feel like BMW/Porsche brakes, not like Prius brakes. Brakes should be separate from regen if you want good brakes.

To the author —

You wrote this portion of a sentence, “the desirable level of added regen in the e-tron is not controlled by shifting the car into Low, applying a special mode setting, or using a steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifter.”

But a competing blogger (that starts with the letter E) wrote the following, “You have to press the ‘minus’ paddle to increase the potential regen capacity, which I don’t think is really intuitive.” The paddle that he was referring to is a steering wheel-mounted paddle.

There seems to be a difference in opinion between these regarding the steering wheel-mounted paddle.

Why is that?

Hey MoMoc, There’s a lot to explore with Audi’s brake regen system. More to come soon. But my understanding (based on how the e-tron drove and my discussions with Audi folks) is that pressing the paddle for a stronger level of regen achieves exactly the same thing as slightly pressing on the brake pedal. I agree that the minus button is counter-intuitive. But it’s basically irrelevant because you can just use the brake pedal instead of the paddle. Besides, as soon as your foot returns to the accelerator, that level of regen is lifted. In other words, you are never pushing through the regen or fighting through it like I do with my Bolt in L or you do in a Tesla. If you really want one-pedal driving, I believe you can sort through menus and have it. But Audi’s strategy is to make it unnecessary and still get the most out of regen. I resisted the idea for half a day and then got used to it. I started to think of it as EV two-pedal driving. It’s actually clever and should appeal to the many drivers who just want to put a car in automatic and drive. And… Read more »

Actually, the “inverted” regen paddles should be perfectly intuitive in terms of the “just like a combustion car” mindset: switching to a lower gear gives stronger engine breaking…

Ok that’s a much better explanation. So one pedal is there, but perhaps not well implemented from a usability perspective.

But agreed the full two pedal simulation will be very attractive for their conventional customer base.

Forced Volt->Bolt Conversion

If a really ugly grill is mainstream, it’s spot-on.

Hypertrophy extra comical in this case. So ironic.

“Thomas Stinner, an automotive acoustics engineer at Audi, said, “When you are in the e-tron, you are sitting in a sealed cabin. In an electric car, you can’t have a single hole for sound to escape.” Then he delivered an impromptu personal TED talk about the e-tron’s multi-layer windows, quiet motors, the use of foam to fill gaps in wheel wells, and strategies to kill some frequencies at some speeds while allowing others to survive at other speeds for driver feedback. He talked about audio pitches that can reach the footwell but not human ears. All these strategies, Stinner explained, were applied to the unique acoustic profiles for road noise, tire noise, engine noise, and wind noise. The strategy worked so well that Audi does not use active noise cancelation from the e-tron’s speakers.“

Above is one of the single biggest weaknesses of the various Tesla Models. They all have Issues with NVH. It is disappointing when your electric car is louder than any equivalently priced ICE vehicle (certainly my Model S is louder on the freeway than my previous 5 series. The next gen Model S MUST get this right.

Had to Google it: NVH = Noise Vibration Harshness

Not sure NVH is the right term.
N perhaps.
The model S has been speced by magazines as being fairly quiet. I can’t seem to find the reference but at 70 mph, it was generally on the lower side of lux cars. Since a 5 series is not the quietest thing in the world, I am guessing your car is just not the quietest example. Perhaps 21 inch tires?

I found a nice site. Model S at 66 db. Recent (2016+) 5 series were from 65-68 depending on model.

I do think Tesla should go full bore and make it the quietest car on the planet. But as we know, this means weight.

I would agree with that. My BMWs are much quieter than my Model S at highway speeds. Premium quiet tires are a must for Model S. I did have the Service Center adjust my driver side window and seals and that really helped eliminate much of the wind noise at 80+ mph.

The nex gen Model S won’t get this right! I did cost Audi a fortune and a lot of time to get so far, in the last 10 years the have invested more than a billion in their automotive acoustics.

My argument against that assessment. Aerodynamics is a huge factor when it comes to noise on an EV. That and tire noise. Tire noise is the job of the tire manufacturers. So Audi can spend $1 billion dollars making a brick sound reasonable. It is the equivalent of spending $1 billion to make an ICE not vibrate.

I was just enjoying my AWD Model 3 today on a beautiful, sunny and very cold day in Seattle. I marveled at how the sound system is so amazingly good – But that I spend a lot more time now – about two months into Tesla ownership – maximizing my range, even obsessing on the graphic range estimator, and driving WITHOUT music…Just reveling in the silent power, the glide and the way I can hear external noises like seagulls circling overhead when I’m at a stoplight – glancing at them through the glass roof. Look – I get it. This Audi is the new girl in school. It’s a first drive with Audi reps and engineers to laud each and every detail. Yet the assumptions in this article are grossly inaccurate and even blatantly false. I have no noise issues with my car. The Audi guy committed the first sin of auto sales – Don’t cut down your competitor. Saying my Tesla is always in the shop is a nasty lie – and he’s assuming we’ll all agree to Audi’s sainthood of quality. Look – I’m old enough to remember when Audis were in the press for leaking, squeaking and… Read more »

Yes, trashing the competition is not cool, but shows how much Tesla is on their minds, doesn’t it?

Wait a minute!

“A Move For The Mainstream” . Have you checked HOW MUCH this boutique BEV will cost?

Not mainstream by a long shot.

Fair enough. It should be stated as “mainstream luxury SUV buyer.”

The main question is:

People that can afford to pay $100,000.- to buy a car, will they choose to buy this Audi e-tron instead of an ICE car?

I think that the answer to that question is a “YES”.

The problem is that Audi will not be producing that many of them.

Only those customers who really want to buy this EV model, and don’t mind having to wait more than a year before they can take delivery of the car, will end up buying it.

I asked Audi how they’ll measure success with the e-tron. They said selling out the full production run, which I believe is 50k units (a combo of suv and the sportback variant). Seems like a solid start as they try to make 30 percent of total sales as EVs by about 2025.

So the largest auto manufacturer in the world with a presence in more countries than I can name wants to sell as many of these (over ?? months) as Tesla sells of the Model X in 15 months? 30% of their sales is 3 million. So we are talking sales from 2019-2020 but I am giving credit for 1 year.

So they are shooting for the moon with .5% of sales when their goal is 30%? (Yes I realize that VAG has other EVs – but in the US, they might as well be zero)

“…some of the auto journalists on the e-tron drive in Abu Dhabi could barely tell the difference from being in a Audi Q8 SUV with a gas engine and an e-tron with an electric motor. That, in a nutshell, was Audi’s goal…”

Which is why Audi won’t ever be a leader in the EV revolution. The EV revolution isn’t going to be lead by slavishly trying to make EVs that look and feel like gasmobiles. It’s going to be lead by, and advanced by, auto makers throwing off the constraints of gasmobile engineering, and striking boldly out in new directions.

Motorcars didn’t become mainstream when they were mere horseless carriages. They became mainstream after they started looking, and operating, quite different from a buggy which had the horse replaced with a gas motor mounted above the rear axle.

And altho the e-tron is a nice looking car, I’d be a lot more impressed with actual un-retouched photos than with the renders and heavily retouched photos illustrating this article.

I shot the third image in the piece. Fit and finish are good.

As proponents of EVs, shouldn’t we be happy that a well-established maker of premium vehicles is trying a different approach? We need everybody on board. You might not love its approach but Audi is serious about EVs.

Most of them are Tesla fanboys and they don’t give a f..k about EVs, global warming, evolution and so on. They only want Musk to succeed and nothing more.

Or, some of us love cars.

I’ve owned 4 Subarus, 1 Toyota, 1 VW, 1 Audi, and many cargo vans (for work). Now, I have 2 Teslas. Won’t go back to ICE or PHEV or anything less. Right now, Tesla offers a better mousetrap. And I’m not a fanboy. I just like having the best stuff out there. Right now, it’s Tesla. In the future, who knows?

The problem is not with taking a different approach. The problem is that the e-tron is obviously compromised in a number of ways by being based on a combustion car platform — but they are trying to spin it as a good thing… The upcoming MEB-based vehicles will have very different proportions and parameters, and their spin will suddenly change.

Of course every company is trying to spin things in their favour; Audi is probably no bigger offender than anyone. However, I prefer writers commending only actual positives, while calling out the PR nonsense, rather than drinking the kool-aid and parroting the spin…

I have a cabin on a dirt road and I love the idea of this car. The problem is that the cabin is 300 miles away. The Audi would be awful for the trip even if chargers existed. The Audi promises increased utility compared to a BEV that is more focused on efficiency, but an etron driver will immediately notice just how little utility the etron has because it is so inefficient. It makes the BEV concept look bad in comparison to an ICE without emphasizing its strengths: one pedal driving, efficiency, software controlled cabin…etc. Audi can’t be serious with this approach. They aren’t stupid. It’s not the way to make a BEV and they know it. The slow acceleration and large battery with limited usability is a paper over for it’s low efficiency and poor battery management software. As if they could out Tesla Tesla but decided on this stupid approach because it is what you want. They are buying time at their customers’ expense and lying about it. Same old Audi.

30 degrees in the desert! Interesting they invited to the Emirates. Nice temperature to keep the battery cosy. None of the journalists asked why they didn’t present the car in 5 degrees C Bavaria? Because it probably won’t even do the 100 mile trip! Or because even in Germany people are turning their backs on Audi…

Because running aircon and coolers nonstop in the desert is good for range… Yeah….
You seem to be quite a smartie

It’s about 25C in the wintertime over there.

“Nice temperature to keep the battery cosy. ”

At 30 C you have to run air-condition in the cabin, and also cool batteries when driving, that will cost some range. If they wanted maximum range they would present the car at a location with 15-20 C temperature.

“why they didn’t present the car in 5 degrees C Bavaria?”

Because outdoor photo shoots does not look so spectacular in a rainy December weather.

… and because the German motorways are decidedly more crowded, even if many of them have no speed limit.
Also, driving a BEV without speed limit might not be good for range, either…

“Out Tesla Tesla” Sorry guys you are a very very long way from that. But good on you for trying. The world needs all the major car companies to be trying to “Out Tesla Tesla” asap.
Unfortunately for Audi its VW parent is still actively undermining emission controls worldwide, so, Tesla and Audi are galaxies apart.

Not bad Audi — now let’s see some actually being sold and then I’ll be impressed.

The efficiency issue is quite interesting, because now we have 2 Luxury SUVs (iPace & eTron) with lower than expected efficiency (vs X).

Any Tesla drivetrain efficiency improvements are not anywhere near enough to explain the difference, so it is more likely to be aerodynamics and luxury accessories (impacting power and weight). Therefore it seems that unless you choose an aerodynamic jelly bean with lower luxury levels (the X) , this lower efficiency is really the norm for a conventionally styled high end loaded luxury SUV.

Just like the ICE world, if you want better mileage, choose the smaller and simpler vehicle.

You call the X smaller?

Thanks for the excellent review. Interesting details on the acoustics. At some point that could be a differentiator, but right now every EV feels serene coming out of an ICE. I see what they were going for with taking away one pedal driving, but I doubt I would be a fan. As a previous fan of only manual transmissions, I like the downshift feel of regent on the accelerator. I really hope the brake feel is imperceptible that it switches from regen to mechanical. I have yet to drive a car that doesnt feel squishy or grabby at times attempting to do that. I could take the lower efficiency better if it had space like a real SUV (third row, 80+ cu ft storage with seats folded down, etc. I know this isn’t targeted as a family SUV and it will be fine as an evecutive commuter. The efficiency will limit its usefulness for a road trip though. My wife loves the look of the Audi SUVs, but I don’t think this one will be able to replace our current GMC Acadia. I really think a PHEV SUV is a better fit, if anyone ever builds a real one. I… Read more »

Nice car and all, love the interior – but the cheapest model cost the same as 4 of the entry level Peugeot ion EVs.
With my needs for the new car.. it will probably be a super cheap EV model .. and wait for a larger electric passenger van..
Not that those cars can be compared when it comes to material quality, range, equipment, handling or anything like that.. but I get 4 seats, a stearing wheel, a battery of some kind and I can regulate the temperature inside the car, and room for 4 shopping/sports bags. Basically what I need.
I’d love to buy the Audi, especially if my needs was higher. I think I will wait for the Golf sized I.D or a Model 3 if it gets cheap enough. Until then. . I’m actually considering the ion or an e-up.. or what the Skoda version of the e-up will be called.

It is quite laughable that Audi would even mention that is trying to, out Tesla Tesla. Without the diesel gate scandal and law suit, there would be no Electrify America.
It is just marketing spin. VW and its brands will use any trick in the book, they can’t be trusted.

Crossover: Lame

Grill: Lame

Looks: Meh

Electric: Same consideration as a Bolt, aka, no consideration.

Try again Lausy.

I am excited about the use of a brake pedal. I only drove a Tesla once, so, obviously don’t have much seat time, but as much as I liked the instant and smooth acceleration, I disliked the disconcerting drag/slowdown without any “coasting” effect I get from a typical ICE.

nice model.

“I don’t think the customer cares about the absolute efficiency number,” said Matthew Mostafaei, Audi E-Tron vehicle manager. “There are a number of other factors that are more important.”

There are people that care,they will be disappointed at the efficiency