Audi has shown its Q4 e-tron concept that they would like to be the entry level electric vehicle. It is basically a small SUV, in the mould of a Jaguar i-pace or a Tesla Model 3. It will be powered by two electric motors producing the equivalent of 225kW and like other electric cars recently announced, it will be an all-wheel-drive unit thanks to one motor at each end of the vehicle. It is based on the parent company’s “modular electric drive matrix” which will underpin most of the VW Group’s electric cars in the future.
Also, like the Rivian R1T and others, the batteries are built in to the floorpan to save space and allow for better weight distribution. It will get a driver to 100 km/h in just over 6 seconds and will be electronically limited to 180 km/h. It will have a range of 450 kms (280 miles) and this is a figure that we are seeing gradually increase. For the majority of urban owners, we are thankfully now outside the boundaries of range anxiety.
The vehicle looks like a normal Audi, which is a good thing – we are starting to see “normal” design features appearing on electric cars whereas in the past, designers tried to make them futuristic or simply uncomfortable. Remember the Prius that was all angles and didn’t sell well because nobody liked it?
Audi needs this product to get into the market quickly, along with some other new designs. They had a growth trend of 102 months of continuously increasing sales in the US which unfortunately ended six months ago and this has hit the business hard. It doesn’t help that the core models in Europe were diesel powered which thanks to their parent has become a dirty word and they dropped their Q3 SUV just as Tesla launched their Model 3, so the Q4 e-tron is desperately needed by the dealer networks to attract new sales. It was an odd decision to stop selling the Q3 in the US because they were shifting over 200,000 a year, which suggests that it was a popular model. Having a gap between the old version and the new one has hit them hard. It also doesn’t help that the US chief has walked away from the business at such a critical time.
To make it even worse, there is a backlog of cars waiting to be shipped in Europe because Audi is struggling to meet some new testing procedures mandated by the European Union. That is causing more vehicles to be delayed. The e-tron range is an important series of products for Audi and we are sure that once this model gets to market, it will reverse the current sliding sales figures.
Off Topic: The speed limiter on the Q4 e-tron is an interested item – we always hear about the acceleration of an electric car, however not the top speed and certainly not being limited by the system rather than the dynamics of the vehicle. We are moving to an environment where electric vehicles will become dominant and in a far faster timeframe than other transportation technologies. At the same time, these vehicles are much quieter than a traditional vehicle which makes them more dangerous for inattentive pedestrians. We are seeing a constant reduction in road speed limits, both in urban and rural areas and if Audi limits this vehicle to 180 km/h, how soon will Governments start to dictate that in urban areas, the system should limit the top speed to 40 km/h and in rural, say 80 km/h?