UBS issued an unflattering note after the reveal
Audi spared no expense in the lavish unveiling of its all-electric crossover SUV, the E-tron, last night in San Francisco. While there were many a kind word from assorted media this morning, one outfit was less than impressed: UBS. In a surprising turn of events, the Swiss investment bank which CNBC calls "one of Tesla's biggest skeptics," issued a note in which it said the E-tron is evidence that the German automaker is falling short of its Silicon Valley competitor.
Titled "Audi e-tron launch - another lap Tesla wins," and authored by analyst Patrick Hummel, the missive points to an apparent drivetrain inefficiency and the freshly-revealed crossover's 0-to-60 time (5.5 seconds, .6 seconds slower than the larger Tesla Model X 75D) to make the case the four-rings brand is technologically behind. Said he,
While we appreciate that a solid EV product is not only about acceleration and range, there is still a gap to Tesla in the powertrain efficiency ratios that reflect the degree of innovation. The electric powertrain is not a commodity yet and Tesla might be able to sustain its lead for longer.
The seemingly poor efficiency is betrayed by the fact that, despite a 95 kWh battery, it supposedly has a range of only 249 miles under the WLTP cycle. The Tesla Model X 75D, despite being larger and carrying 20 kWh less energy storage in its battery pack, has an EPA-rated range of 237 miles. That's almost assuredly more the E-tron will achieve under that testing regime.
Hummel summed up his E-tron criticism with,
At the margin, the not-so-impressive key stats could dampen the sales outlook and make it more difficult for Audi (or the premium OEMs in general) to break even with their EVs. This plays into Tesla's hands and in China, into the hands of the emerging local EV players.
And while Audi was the target of most of the analyst's castigation, his take on Tesla's prospects, vis-à-vis the Model 3, wasn't especially positive either. Maintaining a $190 price target for the California company's shares, he predicted, "We think Tesla will not create enough Model 3 demand at the envisaged price point of >$50k, which would be required to meet 2019 consensus expectations."