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2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron to arrive in US showrooms in Q4 2023; 3-motor quattro drivetrain

Audi provided more details on the 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron, which adds extra performance to Audi’s flagship luxury electric SUV, the Q8 e-tron (earlier post). The SQ8 e-tron provides improved acceleration, increased handling dynamics, and elevated traction capabilities with its three-motor quattro drivetrain.

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The three electric motors—one at the front axle and two positioned in the rear—offer 94 more horsepower and 228 more lb-ft of torque than the 2024 Q8 e-tron. The three motor drivetrain offers superior straight-line performance, along with improved dynamics and traction capabilities thanks to standard electric torque vectoring.

The front axle is driven by an asynchronous electric motor (when unpowered, asynchronous motors induce no drag, helping to improve efficiency), while the rear axle features two asynchronous electric motors that each power a rear wheel.

In boost mode, the front-axle motor produces up to 210 hp (157 kW), and the two rear motors up to 185 hp (138 kW) each. Total boost power is limited to 496 hp (370 kW) by battery output, allowing the SUV to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 4.2 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds). Top speed is limited to 130 mph.

The two rear electric motors on the SQ8 e-tron also provide handling advantages over the single rear motor Q8 e-tron. Since there is no physical connection between the rear wheels (apart from their shared cooling system), the two electric motors can distribute drive torque to either wheel with complete variability, and do so in fractions of a second.

Electric torque vectoring can direct drive force to the appropriate wheel in five milliseconds or less, an extremely low latency, responding around five times quicker than that of mechanical differentials.

When cornering at speed, distributing power so swiftly and effectively between the rear wheels eliminates the need for torque vectoring by braking to improve agility. When accelerating quickly out of a corner, the outside rear wheel can receive up to 162 lb.-ft. (220 N·m) more torque than the inside wheel. When multiplied by the electric motors’ gearing, this can equate to a difference at the wheels of around 1,550 lb.-ft. (2,100 Nm).

The added torque sent to the outside wheel can help improve vehicle turn-in without the use of the brakes as in more conventional torque vectoring systems. As the SQ8 e-tron’s handling limit is approached, the unloaded inside front wheel is slowed slightly, helping make the SQ8’s handling both more agile and neutral, minimizing both oversteer and understeer conditions.

Another advantage of the three-motor drivetrain in the SQ8 e-tron is its ability to improve traction on acceleration. If one rear wheel is on a low-friction surface (e.g., a patch of ice, wet grass or gravel), torque can be distributed precisely and quickly between the other two motors. The higher-traction wheel receives almost the entire available torque, while the lower-traction wheel can receive almost none, helping the SQ8 to improve traction on lower friction surfaces.

Aided by an EV’s low center of gravity and tuned for optimized lateral dynamics, all SQ8 e-tron models benefit from Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, and are equipped with air-sprung, five-link, front and rear independent suspensions with electronic damper control. This permits the SQ8 e-tron to be configured for different road conditions, with a ride height adaptable by as much as 3.0 inches (76 mm) depending on the driving situation.

The four-stage electronic stabilization control (ESC) system in the SQ8 e-tron is fully integrated with the power electronics and electrified powertrain to help balance handling and control. Along with the normal driving mode, the ESC system offers sport and offroad modes. Driving characteristics can also be tuned via the standard Audi drive select dynamic handling system, permitting choices between seven pre-set profiles: auto, comfort, dynamic, efficiency, individual, allroad, and offroad.

Due to the location of the high-voltage battery, the SQ8 e-tron features an almost equal 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles. The SQ8 e-tron’s body features a mixed steel/aluminum hybrid construction. Including the housing for the high-voltage battery, the aluminum content of the body is around 40%.

The high-voltage battery and body form a strengthened hybrid structure, netting 45% greater torsional stiffness than a conventional internal-combustion SUV. This stiff construction pays off in better handling as well as reduced noise levels. The central components forming the core of the SQ8 e-tron’s passenger compartment—A- and B-pillars, roof members, center tunnel, interior sills, floor cross members, and rear longitudinal members—are all made of ultra-high-strength steel.

Incorporates significant Q8 e-tron model line improvements. The 2024 SQ8 e-tron retains all the usability gains of the 2024 Q8 e-tron announced for the US in March 2023. The SQ8 e-tron benefits from increased driving range, higher-power and faster charging capabilities, and efficiency gains via aerodynamic advancements and improvements to both battery cell chemistry and packaging over the previous 2023 Audi e-tron S that it replaces.

As with the 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron, owners of the 2024 SQ8 e-tron also receive the same two years of DC fast charging included at no additional cost via the Electrify America network. The SQ8 e-tron also incorporates customer conveniences such as Plug & Charge functionality which eliminates the need to present a separate payment card at Electrify America charging stations across the country.

With a 23% greater net battery capacity of 106 kWh (114 kWh gross) from the previous e-tron S, and a number of aerodynamic and other efficiency updates, the EPA-estimated range of new 2024 SQ8 e-tron sees an increase of around 20% compared to the e-tron S models from 2023.

The EPA-estimated range for the 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron and SQ8 Sportback e-tron is 253 miles with the standard 20-inch wheels, and 218 miles with the optional 22-inch wheels.

Audi has sold more than 150,000 e-tron SUVs globally since its introduction as the brand’s first BEV in 2019. In 2022, Audi ended the year with its most BEV sales ever in the US, finishing the year with an increase of 47% over 2021. The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron represents another portion of the second-generation of Audi’s electrified US portfolio, contributing toward the brand’s goal of achieving a 30% electrified model portfolio globally by 2025, including fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

From 2026, all new models introduced for the global market from Audi are planned to be fully electric.

The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron is anticipated to arrive in U.S. showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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