In total, some 34,000 Audi e-tron 55 quattro vehicles - built between mid-September 2018 (model year 2019) and the end of November 2019 (model year 2020) - can get the range boost.
The manufacturer says that it is not limiting efficiency increases to new models, but boosting the efficiency of cars already on the road. Unfortunately, there is no over-the-air software update option and customers will have to visit Audi service centers for the installation.
The later versions (after November 2019), and all Audi e-tron Sportback, were already produced with improved hardware and software, getting at the time up to 25 km (15.5 miles) more WLTP range - up to 436 km (270.9 mi).
The optimized software is the main contributor to the range increase, according to Audi. With the addition of hardware improvements, the current Audi e-tron 55 quattro has a range of up to 441 km (274 miles) WLTP. The Audi e-tron Sportback has WLTP range of up to 453 km (282 miles).
Gallery: 2019 Audi E-Tron: First Drive
Audi lists three main areas that allowed for the increased range. The first one is the higher available battery capacity. Let's recall that initially only 83 kWh of of 95 kWh were available, while after the update it will be 86 kWh (3.6% more), although we guess that it's 86.5 kWh just like in the new cars.
"Among other improvements, the update expands the usable capacity of the high-voltage battery. As a result, the 95 kWh battery in the Audi e-tron 55 quattro delivers more net usable power – 86 kWh capacity therefore translates into increased range."
The second element is the improved front motor (asynchronous type) control, which reduces its energy consumption in normal driving mode.
"In addition to the battery capacity, the new software also optimizes the control of the front electric motor. In normal driving mode, the motor attached to the rear axle is responsible for propulsion. For improved efficiency, the front electric motor is now almost completely disconnected and powered off – and only when more power is needed do both motors come into play. This makes it possible to even more effectively exploit the major advantage of the asynchronous motor concept, i.e., currentless operation without electrical drag losses."
The third and final noticeable change is the optimized thermal management - specifically battery cooling.
"Furthermore, the update also improves cooling. The highly flexible thermal management system, which consists of four separate circuits, regulates the temperature of the high-voltage components even more efficiently. Modifying the control system made it possible to reduce the volume flow rates in the coolant circuit, thus reducing energy consumption. The cooling system is the basis for fast DC charging, long battery life, and consistent driving performance, even under high loads."
The total sales of the Audi e-tron exceed 100,000 globally, so the software update concerns about a third of all vehicles on the roads.