Audi E-Tron GT & E-Tron Quattro Details Emerge, Will Be Based On Porsche Mission E

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If you are a manufacturer, you want to spread your R&D costs over as many units as possible. It’s one of the keys to profitability. Porsche has invested a ton of money to develop the Mission E four-door sedan. In Geneva this year, it took the wraps off the Mission E Cross Turismo, a version of the Mission E intended to appeal to SUV customers. Since Porsche is owned by Volkswagen Group and since Audi is also part of the VW corporate family, it has access to everything Porsche does.

All Hail The Audi E-Tron GT

Audi E-Tron GT

So, it is no coincidence that Audi CEO Rupert Stadler announced at the company’s annual press conference last week that Audi will roll out two new models based on the Mission E platform in the next few years. The first and most stunning of those offerings is called the E-Tron GT. Is it a badge-engineered clone of the Mission E? Perhaps. Details are sketchy at present. But it will be a swoopy, low-sling, four-door sedan — words that also describe the Mission E.

The only difference, suggests Road & Track, is that Audi may use a three-motor configuration — one in front and two in the rear — to give the car advanced torque vectoring capability. Porsche has said previously that the Mission E will use two motors and has  hinted a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive version may be offered later as the base model of the car.

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Audi E-Tron Quattro For Mainstream Drivers

The electric car from Audi that may appeal most to mainstream drivers is the E-Tron Quattro. Also based on Mission E mechanicals, it will be the electric car from Audi that most closely resembles vehicles that are already featured in the company’s model lineup.

Expected in showrooms in 2019, the E-tron Quattro “will be built using a carbon-neutral fabrication process and accept a 150kW fast charge,” according to Engadget. Stadler told the press it will be priced from €80,000, which translates to about $100,000 in American money. A Google search for “carbon neutral fabrication process” turned up no further information, but in Rupert Stadler’s press kit, he says the car will be built at “our CO2-neutral plant in Brussels.”

The News Behind The News

While the motoring press is focusing on what Stadler had to say about the E-Tron GT and E-Tron Quattro, the real news from the press event concerns Audi’s plans for the Chinese market. While Elon Musk is tweeting about how unfair China’s rules for foreign manufacturers, Audi is forging ahead to increase market share in the world’s largest new car market.

“In 2018, we have a special anniversary in China. 30 years ago, we were the first premium manufacturer to start local production in our largest single market by far. That was with just one model, the Audi 100. Today, together with FAW, we produce six Audi models in China. In the next five years, we will more than double our portfolio from local production together with our partner FAW,” Stadler said.

“Together, we will significantly expand our product range above all in the area of electrified drive systems and sporty SUVs. Our Chinese customers love the Q family. This is why we will launch ten new SUV variants to the market, of which we will produce seven locally. Four of them will be fully electric. All of that belongs to our comprehensive market initiative in China until 2022.”

The message is clear. China is the tail that wags the dog in the car business today. When it comes to being a global manufacturer, you are either on the China bus or you are off the bus — or out in left field. Some may moan about China’s restrictive rules or wish for the good old days when Detroit was the epicenter of the car business and Cadillac was still “the standard of the world,” but rose-colored glasses can’t disguise the fact that China is now where it’s at. There are geopolitical ramifications to be considered here as well, which no amount of looking in the rear-view mirror will make go away.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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