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Audi e-tron premium electric SUV debuts; starting at $74,800 in US; delivery Q2 2019; reservations open

Audi unveiled its all-electric Audi e-tron mid-size SUV—its first fully electric production model—in an event in San Francisco. The Audi e-tron is a premium electric SUV designed for sport, family and leisure, and will enter the US market with a suggested retail price of $74,800, with initial arrival in the second quarter of 2019.

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The two electric motors accelerate the e-tron from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds (with boost engaged) and reach a top speed of 124 mph. The maximum drive torque is reached in 250 milliseconds. A 396V, 95 kWh battery pack—augmented by efficient recuperation—provides more than 400 km (249 miles) of range under the WLTP. US figures will be available closer to launch.

The e-tron is 193 inches long, 76.3 inches wide and 65.5 inches high—basically, in-between the Audi Q5 and Q8—offering the spaciousness and comfort commensurate with an Audi. With a wheelbase of 115.1 inches, the Audi e-tron has ample space for five occupants and cargo. The total luggage capacity is 28.5 cu ft. (57.0 cu ft. seats down), equipping the electric SUV for short jaunts as well as long road trips.

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Drive and recuperation. The two asynchronous motors (ASM) of the Audi e-tron are especially robust. Their sophisticated cooling concept is designed to keep the temperature level low. Single-stage transmissions transfer the torque to the axles via the differentials.

The front motor is an axially parallel ASM, with 165 kW with boost and 355 N·m of torque. The rear motor is coaxial, with 135 kW with boost and 309 N·m of torque.

Each motor is supplied by power electronics that act in close consort with the powertrain control unit. When the Audi e-tron is traveling at moderate speeds, in the interest of efficiency it is powered mainly by the rear motor. When coasting, the motors operate free from magnetic drag torque—another strength of ASM technology.

The Audi e-tron uses an innovative recuperation system encompassing both electric motors, to boost efficiency. Audi engineers estimate that on average this system is responsible for as much as 30% of the e-tron’s range depending on the conditions, terrain and driving style.

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The electric SUV can recover energy in two ways: by means of coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or by means of braking recuperation by depressing the brake pedal.

When pressing the brake pedal, the electronic control unit computes within milliseconds how much pressure the system needs to build up for the specific braking process required. A high-performance electric motor supplies the necessary energy. The integrated brake control system is approximately 30 percent lighter than a conventional system thanks to its more compact design. The conventional vacuum pump is no longer needed in this configuration.

According to the driving situation, the brake control system decides whether to use the electric motors as alternators or to use the friction brakes—all without the driver noticing.

Up to 0.3 g, the Audi e-tron is decelerated solely by the electric motors—that covers more than 90% of braking scenarios. Energy is returned to the battery in practically all normal braking instances.

Above this deceleration value—e.g., in a full brake application—the friction brakes come into play. With a newly designed electro-hydraulic activation principle, they are particularly quick to respond.

The driver can select the degree of energy recovery in three stages by means of paddles on the steering wheel. In the lowest setting, the Audi e-tron glides with no additional braking torque. At the highest stage the electric SUV is slowed more noticeably—the driver can slow down and accelerate solely via the acceleration pedal, if desired. This creates what is referred to as a one-pedal feeling.

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The efficiency assist additionally promotes an economical driving style by prompting the driver when he should move his foot off of the accelerator pedal. It does this by using the navigation system’s route data, radar information and camera images, Depending on the traffic situation the predictive system makes the Audi e-tron slow down proactively and in turn, recuperate.

Electric all-wheel drive and suspension. In the Audi e-tron, the brand introduces a new generation of quattro drive as standard: electric all-wheel drive. This new system enables the electric SUV to achieve optimum traction in a variety of weather conditions and on challenging road surfaces.

In a similar way to the mechanical quattro with ultra technology, the second axle—in this case, the one at the front—can be connected predictively. This happens if the driver requests more power than the rear electric motor can supply, or predictively even before grip noticeably declines in wintery conditions or in dynamic cornering. The electric motors are an ideal power source for the high-precision, ultrafast electric quattro. Torque can be controlled spontaneously—the output can be redistributed between the axles within a fraction of a second.

Towards the limits of driving dynamics, torque vectoring enhances handling by means of brief wheel brake applications. The dynamic talents of the Audi e-tron are especially apparent on a low-friction surface, such as snow. For the first time in the e-tron, the quattro torque vectoring are integrated on the central suspension controller, distributing the torque with a slight rear bias.

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The innovative traction control regulates wheel slip by the millisecond directly via the electric motors’ power electronics. The powertrain control unit is integrated with the built-in brake control system and helps maintain an optimum power flow between tires and road surface. Together with the electric all-wheel drive, this produces the high traction and directional stability that are typical of an Audi. This is especially evident in the four-stage Electronic Stabilization Control, which offers the “sport” and “offroad” modes and can also be fully turned off when desired.

The SUV’s driving character can be adjusted with the standard Audi drive select across seven profiles—from comfortable, through efficient, to distinctively sporty—according to the driving situation, road condition or personal requirements. Some of the modes also influence the standard air suspension with adaptive dampers.

Depending on road speed and driving style the suspension adjusts the body’s ride height by up to 76 millimeters (3.0 in). Especially on long journeys, a lower ride height improves the air flow around the body, thus helping to increase range. In the “offroad” mode, the Audi e-tron is primed for driving away from paved roads: Its ground clearance is increased by 35 millimeters (1.4 in) compared with the standard level. If the driver activates the additional function “Raise” in Audi drive select, the body can adapt to another 15 millimeters (0.6 in) higher.

The electric SUV is both dynamic and stable in changing driving conditions. The low position of the drive components helps in that regard: The battery system is optimally matched to the dimensions of the Audi e-tron body and is located between the axles in the form of a flat, broad block beneath the passenger compartment. That places the Audi e-tron’s center of gravity a few centimeters lower down than in a conventional SUV.

The axle load distribution is balanced at approximately 50:50, and self-steering behavior is neutral. The front and rear suspensions take the form of five-link designs. The standard progressive steering adjusts its ratio according to steering angle and provides speed-dependent assistance. The further the steering is turned, the more direct it becomes—this helps make the vehicle agile and precise to move with little effort. This advantage comes into play in city driving and for tight maneuvering.

An optional trailer tow hitch can increase the Audi e-tron’s versatility, for example as a sport and leisure vehicle. When equipped with the tow package, the Audi e-tron has a maximum tow rating of 4000 lbs. It can also be used for mounting a cycle carrier, for example.

High-voltage battery system. The battery system in the Audi e-tron is located beneath the cabin and is 2.28 meters (90 inches) long, 1.63 meters (63.6 inches) wide and 34 centimeters (13.4 in) high. It comprises a total of 36 cell modules in square aluminum housings, each of which is roughly the size of a shoe box.

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They are arranged on two levels, known as “floors”—a longer lower floor and a shorter upper one. At market launch, each module is equipped with twelve pouch cells having a flexible outer skin of aluminum-coated polymer. The battery operates with a nominal voltage of 396 volts and stores 95 kWh of energy.

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A cooling system of flat aluminum extruded sections divided uniformly into small chambers has the task of maintaining the battery’s high-performance operation over the long term. Heat is exchanged between the cells and the cooling system beneath them via a thermally conductive gel pressed beneath each cell module. In what is a particularly resourceful solution, the gel evenly transfers the waste heat to the coolant via the battery housing.

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A strong surround frame and lattice-type aluminum structure that holds the cell modules is designed to protect the battery block. A substantial aluminum plate provides protection against damage from flying stones or curbs, for example.

The weight of the battery system including the housing pan with intricate crash structures is roughly 700 kilograms (1543.2 lb). It is bolted to the underbody of the Audi e-tron at 35 points. This increases the torsional rigidity of the body, which in turn integrates numerous aluminum parts such as the floor plate in the rear structure, the doors, as well as the hood and tailgate. The cabin features components made from heat-formed ultra-high-strength steel.

Charging at up to 150 kW. The e-tron is engineered for both AC and DC charging via the widespread SAE J1772 and Combined Charging System (CCS) standards. In an industry first to-date, the e-tron debuts a DC fast charging capability of up to 150 kW available at select high-speed public charging stations, this capability can deliver up-to an 80% charge in only approximately 30 minutes.

For customers’ residential charging needs, a standard 9.6 kW AC capsule charger (Level 2, 240-volt/40 amps) is provided and designed to deliver a fresh charge overnight. This charger will include plugs that can utilize both a standard 120-volt household outlet (1.2 kW) as well as a fast-speed 240-volt NEMA 14-50 outlet (9.6 kW).

Audi e-tron buyers will have the opportunity to ready their homes for their all-electric SUV with available Amazon Home Services in the first home charging collaboration between Amazon and an automaker. “Audi Home Charging powered by Amazon Home Services” offers e-tron buyers a fully-digital experience for in-home electric vehicle charging installations, designed to make the process of home charging set up as easy as ordering the millions of others items and services US customers depend on from Amazon.

Furthermore, customers can define their own personal priorities, such as charging when electricity is less expensive where available. With the myAudi app, it can be accessed from the convenience of the home. It can be used to plan, control, and monitor the charging and pre-heating/-cooling of the electric SUV. The customer can set a departure time, for example, so that the Audi e-tron is charged and/or heated/cooled at the desired time. Customers can even choose to heat or cool certain zones in the car. On cold winter days, for example, customers can turn on the optional seat heating. The app also displays charging and driving data.

For charging on the go, the e-tron will be supported by a nationwide charging network, “Powered by Electrify America.” By July 2019, this network will include nearly 500 fast-charging sites complete or under development throughout 40 states and 17 metro areas. Offering advanced charging, Electrify America’s chargers are capable of delivering up to 350kW. With the purchase of the Audi e-tron customers will receive 1,000 kWh of charging at Electrify America sites over four years of ownership.

Operation and displays. In keeping with the all-new Audi C and D segment portfolio, the Audi e-tron features the MMI touch response operating system. Its two large, high-resolution displays—the upper one with a diagonal of 10.1 inches and the lower one 8.6 inches—take the place of almost all conventional switches and controls. Operation is swift and simple: When the finger activates a function, it triggers a tactile and acoustic click by way of confirmation. The few remaining buttons, for example for the lights, are also available with touch response technology if desired.

In the upper display, the driver controls the infotainment, telephone, navigation, and special e-tron settings—this allows the activation of a charging timer or specifying the type of desired recuperation, for example. In the lower screen text input, comfort function selections and the HVAC are all managed with the wrist resting comfortably on the gear selector lever with integrated support. The menu structure is intuitively logical and flat like on a smartphone, including freely configurable favorites and start screens.

In addition, the driver can activate a wide range of functions using natural language recognition. Information on destinations and media is either available on board or can be delivered from the cloud at LTE speed. The system understands spoken commands; the dialog manager asks questions if necessary, allows corrections, offers choices, and also defers to the speaker when interrupted.

Alexa has been fully integrated into the MMI system and is on board for customers to access the many of the same features and services in the Audi e-tron as they can in their home or through other Alexa-enabled devices. You can check news, weather and sports scores, order groceries and add things to your to-do list, stream music and audiobooks via Audible, Amazon Music and TuneIn. And you access the wide variety of Alexa skills.

The digital display and operating concept in the Audi e-tron is rounded off by the standard feature of the Audi virtual cockpit, which can be operated from the multifunction steering wheel. Its display benefits from the very high resolution of 1,920 x 720 pixels and new e-tron-specific graphics. The driver can choose between three views: In the classic view, the power meter and speedometer are presented as large dials; in the infotainment view, they appear smaller and the focus is on the navigation map. Additionally, with the standard Audi virtual cockpit plus an additional view is shown that puts the power meter center stage. The head-up display complements the displays as an option. It projects important information straight onto the windscreen.

Connectivity: navigation, Audi connect. The Audi e-tron is equipped with MMI Navigation plus as standard. The top-end media center supports the high-speed data transmission through LTE Advanced with integrated Wi-Fi hotspot for passengers’ mobile devices through a 6-month unlimited Audi connect PLUS trial subscription. The navigation system can make predictive destination suggestions based on previous journeys. The route is calculated both on-board in the car and online on the servers of the map and navigation provider HERE, using real-time data for the overall traffic conditions.

The online services of Audi connect PRIME ideally complement the navigation system, especially the e-tron route planner. The customer can use it either in the in-car MMI touch system or in the myAudi app. In both cases they are shown the suggested route with the available charging points. The navigation system considers not only the battery’s charge but also the traffic conditions and includes the required charging time in its arrival time calculation. The e-tron route planner provides charge locations as part of the route planning.

Driver assistance systems. The system at the heart of the optional Driver Assistance Package is adaptive cruise assist, which comfortably provides longitudinal and lateral control in traffic jams or at highway speeds. It supports the driver with accelerating, braking, maintaining speed, keeping distance. The system can detect lane markings, roadside structures, vehicles in adjacent lanes and vehicles driving ahead. In construction zones, the Audi e-tron automatically adapts its speed to the traffic situation, taking into account the speed limit.

If the lane is too narrow to allow side-by-side driving, adaptive cruise assist enables offset driving through narrow stretches. In conjunction with efficiency assist it predictively slows down and accelerates the Audi e-tron based on its evaluation of sensor and navigation data as well as road signs. It automatically adjusts to the current speed limit, reduces the speed before corners, during turning and on roundabouts. The system can maintain a driving style that reflects the driving program selected—from every day to sporty.

Driver assistance features for urban areas include intersection assist, rear cross traffic assist as well as lane change and vehicle exit warning. The 360 degree cameras provide multiple views to facilitate centimeter-precision maneuvering, while showing crossing traffic. The 3D view with freely selectable perspective is the highlight. Park steering assist eases the parking process. It steers the Audi e-tron independently into parallel parking and perpendicular parking spaces – forward or backward. The driver only has to accelerate, select the gear and brake.

Operating as standard behind the driver assistance systems in the Audi e-tron is the central driver assistance controller. It continuously computes a differentiated picture of the surroundings. The required data is obtained—depending on the selected options—from up to five radar sensors, six cameras, twelve ultrasound sensors and the laser scanner.

Comments

Lad

Well, if you've been waiting for an affordable EV, you ain't gonna find it from Audi. Makes you wonder if they are really serious about EVs or are they driving buyers to their ICEVs with inflated pricing?

Bernard

One important question is "how many can they make?"

It looks like Tesla is the only company that can produce 100,000+ battery packs per year. All the other electrics are limited to 10 or 20% of that volume. In a way, Tesla has no "real" competition yet.

A 700kg, 2.28 meter battery pack... wow! No wonder they released a giant SUV, that monster pack won't fit in anything else.

Engineer-Poet

I was going "want want want WANT!!!!" and then I came to this:

Operation and displays. In keeping with the all-new Audi C and D segment portfolio, the Audi e-tron features the MMI touch response operating system. Its two large, high-resolution displays—the upper one with a diagonal of 10.1 inches and the lower one 8.6 inches—take the place of almost all conventional switches and controls.

In other words, controls with no tactile feedback which require the driver's eyes to be taken off the road for considerable periods to accomplish anything.  This is dangerous and should be prohibited by law.

Then there's the integration of the Alexa spy system and requirement for a web app to set things like charge delay and pre-conditioning.  Just no.

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