The long-discussed Audi A9 e-Tron has been greenlighted for production, according to recent reports.
Going by the specs the company clearly intends the model to a Tesla Model S competitor, but considering that it won’t hit the market until 2020, and is unlikely to be competitive with the 2020 version of Model S, I can’t quite tell what Audi intends for the model.
The production model will reportedly possess a 300+ mile range, achieved via a 95 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack. It’s not clear if this stated range refers to the US EPA’s testing cycle, or the much more lax European one, but you’d expect it’s the latter.
Notably, the Audi A9 e-Tron will reportedly possess Level 4 autonomous driving technology. Speaking about the matter, the head of electric development at Audi, Ricky Hudi, commented: “Next year the A8 will be the first model with level three automation. On motorways, it will able to drive itself at up to 37mph. Level four is challenging because it requires considerable improvements to sensors and processing power. But it represents a big leap, because the car will be able to drive itself in many situations — not only on the motorway.”
Buyers will reportedly also be offered an 11 kW inductive charging system option.
Auto Car continues, stating, “Audi boss Rupert Stadler has given the go-ahead for a four-wheel-drive electric saloon to rival the Tesla Model S. The luxurious new four-door is expected to be called A9 e-tron and will share much of its technology with the upcoming Q6 e-tron SUV.”
Continuing: “Under an earlier model strategy, Audi had planned to apply the A9 name to a large, conventionally powered four-door coupé to rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and Bentley Continental GT. However, it has been overlooked in favour of the electric luxury saloon, which will have unique styling and the performance to challenge the Model S. The starting point for the new Audi is the EV platform showcased by the e-tron quattro concept at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. The predominantly aluminium structure differs in design from the one being developed by VW Group sister company Porsche for the production version of its Mission E concept car, which is also due to go on sale by the end of the decade.”
So why would someone choose the Audi offering over a Tesla Model S? According to Audi R&D boss Stefan Knirsch, the A9 e-Tron will be differentiated owing to “significant differences in the torque vectoring, the four-wheel drive set-up, and the power electronic packages.” So I guess that those will be the selling points?
I wonder what the 2020 version of the Tesla Model S will be like? A much higher range? Faster acceleration? Fully autonomous driving options? A “spaceship like” interior HUD system? What else? Why isn’t Audi intending to offer a product that will actually compete?
(Tip of the hat to “voyager” on the TMC forum.)