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Audi e-tron SUV vs. Tesla Model X → Just The Facts, Ma’am

The Audi e-tron has finally been unveiled to the public. Is it a compelling electric car?

The Audi e-tron electric SUV has been in the pipeline a long time. On Monday, the company finally took all the camouflage off the car at an introduction ceremony in San Francisco. That location was no accident. San Francisco is adjacent to Tesla’s factory in Fremont and its headquarters in Silicon Valley. So, how does the e-tron (yes, that is its official name) stack up against the Tesla Model X? Let’s take a look.

Audi e-tron electric SUVPhoto by Sebastian Blanco | CleanTechnica

Acceleration, Range, & Charging — e-tron versus X

The Audi e-tron is somewhat shorter than the Tesla Model X and it does not have a 7 passenger option. Cargo capacity is 57 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. The Model X has 88 cubic feet of storage available. The e-tron has a 95 kWh battery. The Model X comes with either a 75 kWh or 100 kWh battery. Both vehicles have dual electric motors.

Audi claims a top speed of 124 mph and a 0–60 e-tron sprint that takes 5.5 seconds, which is a tad shy of the slowest Model X option. Depending on trim, the Model X can scoot to 60 mph in 2.9 to 4.9 seconds.

What is missing from the information is a definitive answer on the e-tron’s EPA range — a curious omission, given that range is the very first piece of information prospective buyers want to know when considering an electric car. Our own Sebastian Blanco, who was at the unveiling event, writes that it is reported to be “well over 400 kilometers” based on the new European WLTP rating system. CNET Road Show speculates that the range in the US, when it is announced, will be between 245 and 295 miles. The car is not expected in US showrooms until the second quarter of 2019 and presumably Audi will release EPA range numbers shortly before then. The Tesla Model X currently has three drivetrain options that come with different range ratings — 237 miles for the Model X 75D, 295 miles for the Model X 100D, and 289 miles for the Model X P100D (that’s the trim that goes from 0–60 mph in a blistering 2.9 seconds, which is unheard of in any other SUV).

Audi claims an 80% recharge is possible in just 30 minutes using a 150 kW DC fast charger. It also says the regenerative braking system will recapture 90% of braking force to help the car go further before it needs recharging.

Tesla’s Supercharging network, which maxes out at about 120 kW at the moment, offers a similar recharging time for road trips, but there’s one little difference. You can currently or soon Supercharge at the following locations in the United States:

Tesla Superchargers USA

The Electrify America network currently has live stations at the large blue bubbles on its site are live, the big grey ones are “coming soon,” and the little ones are “planned sites” but don’t yet have specific addresses/locations.

In other words, Tesla drivers still have a lot more ultrafast charging locations.

Cosseting The Affluent In Comfort

Inside, Audi does a good job of cosseting its passengers in luxury touches, as one might expect from a car that starts at just over $75,000 including a $999 delivery charge. Like the Model X, it includes heated and cooled seats, but the seats also come with a massage function (an extra option) that the Model X doesn’t (yet) provide.

Unlike the Tesla Model X, however, its dashboard breaks no new ground. Despite the fact that a large central touchscreen is one of the features of all Teslas and is something Tesla owners rave about, other manufacturers have avoided following Tesla’s lead in that regard.

Audi e-tron interior Audi e-tron interior Audi e-tron interiorPhotos by Sebastian Blanco | CleanTechnica

The e-tron does have a 10″ touchscreen for all navigation and media duties and a separate screen that controls vehicle functions like heating and air conditioning as well as text messages. It will also have Audi’s version of adaptive cruise control and lane centering, both of which can operate in either Comfort or Sport mode. At least one hand on the wheel is required at all times, however.

Audi e-tron interior

A Traditional Audi Look

That brings us to styling. The first thing you notice about the car is the large grille. This is highly subjective, but why an electric car needs to look like its gasmobile brethren is a mystery to many of us. Some might say it is just a way of carrying over the Audi brand identity the company has so carefully crafted over the years. Others might suggest it represents a desire — perhaps subconscious — to keep one foot in the internal combustion world rather than make a clean break with the past as Tesla has done.

Either way, other German automakers have chosen the same design path for their upcoming electric SUV offerings — the Mercedes EQC and the BMW iNext. Overall, the Audi e-tron is a handsome, solid looking automobile that should appeal strongly to traditional Audi customers. Thankfully, it eschews the latest design craze from other manufacturers that adds random slashes and gashes to the sheet metal in the hope of creating a sense of excitement.

Audi e-tron Audi e-tron Photos by Sebastian Blanco | CleanTechnica

Compelling Enough?

Is the Audi e-tron a compelling electric car? We won’t know until the sales numbers start coming in next year. It is now the style among manufacturers to start taking reservations before production begins and Audi is following that trend. There will be only 999 First Edition cars imported to the United States. Be the first on your block to reserve one with a refundable $1,000 deposit today.

Audi e-tron Photo by Sebastian Blanco | CleanTechnica

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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."


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