Audi e-tron ready for road

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"Audi is going electric and this is our our first major step", Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, said in an interview on Monday before the unveiling.

When it arrives in USA dealerships in the second quarter of next year, the 2019 Audi e-tron will boast a 95-kilowatt-hour battery, standard all-wheel drive and a host of interconnected goodies to make owning Audi's first full-electric vehicle more enjoyable.

According to the carmaker, since the summer of 2016, the plant has extensively rebuilt its body shop, paint shop and assembly line, and has set up its own battery assembly unit in a former logistics unit next to it.

In a note to UBS clients, analyst Patrick Hummel said, "The Audi e-tron underscores that catching up with Tesla is more hard than expected by many". What unites them both mechanically and in spirit is the fact that they all rely on fully-electric powertrains.

The tires fitted on the Audi e-tron use Goodyear's SoundComfort Technology, which helps to reduce the interior vehicle noise. The vehicle glowed with splashes of LED exterior lighting across its tail and similar streaks accenting the wraparound cabin, giving a sense of floating. In Europe, the vehicle will use cameras instead of conventional mirrors to give drivers a view to the rear. Using virtual mirrors rather than regular hardware improves aerodynamics, resulting in a one-percent improvement in range.

"Everything in production has been optimised to achieve completely smooth processes", said Bertram Günter, project leader of the new system at Audi Brussels. Official range numbers have not yet been announced. On average, Audi's engineers estimate that this system is responsible for as much as 30% of the e-tron's range, depending on the conditions, terrain and driving style.

That said, they have not overdone the whole electric design theme.

An official range estimate in the USA will be available closer to launch next year, an Audi of America spokesman said. All EVs, not just Audi vehicles, will have access. But that belies a critical development that was introduced to the EV market last night: greater reliability. Initial deliveries to European customers are planned for late 2018.

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Audi plans to have twelve electric models on offer by 2025 - from the compact to the luxury class.

All aim to expand the market for premium electric vehicles and also to grab share of that market from Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which has had the niche largely to itself. "Most people don't want to be dealing with the issues of early adopters", said Abuelsamid.

Audi is officially launched its Audi e-tron this week in San Francisco. Still, it makes me wonder what Audi might have done to deliver on its promise of changing the game.

Also in the e-tron's favor is the placement of the center console screens, which are slightly oriented towards the driver, unlike the ones in the Q8. That would put the same technology used in vehicle racing into the hands of consumers taking routine trips to the grocery store.

The E-tron is four-wheel drive, with one motor driving the front axle and the other, the rear.

Could we hope for a three-motor E-Tron at some point? Deliveries are expected to begin in the second quarter of next year.

German luxury auto maker Audi finally unveiled during a special event on Monday its new electric sport utility vehicle (SUV), the first of its kind from the company, right in the backyard of its rival Tesla, in the United States.

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