Audi says deliveries of its e-tron battery electric SUV will begin in May. With the first cars just around the corner, so to speak, it has revealed more official information about the car. The very first thing people will want to know is, how far can they go on a single battery charge?
Audi announced this week that the EPA estimated range will be 204* miles with an MPGe rating of 74 miles. Right off the bat, that is going to make some people cringe. The Jaguar I-PACE is rated at 234 miles. The now discontinued Tesla Model X 75 was rated at 237 miles. Since the Audi has a 95 kWh battery, the range quoted by Audi is disappointing. Or is it?
Did you notice the * after the 204 figure? That was put there to alert you to the fact that there is more to this story than meets the eye. Unlike every other manufacturer, Audi has elected to use a range number that corresponds to 88% of the energy available in its “precisely developed battery.”
Green Car Reports says Audi’s engineering staff took a very focused engineering approach that focused on robust battery control and cooling systems. The objective was to make certain the battery stays in its ideal thermal zone under all conditions and that it can charge to its original range and capacity for many years to come.
The result is supposed to be credible range claims that drivers in the real world can expect to achieve on a daily basis. As GCR says, “[W]e experienced in a first drive that had us up near … 100 mph for much of an hour altogether. There’s not the gut-sinking range drop the moment you stop driving gently.”
Range is a very complex metric. It depends on terrain, how aggressive the driver is with the go pedal, ambient temperature, and a host of other factors. But it is a number that shoppers focus on and so the modest number for the e-tron will be a concern to some.
Offsetting that concern somewhat is the fact that the Audi can recharge at 150 kW of power — more than most other electric cars on the road — assuming you can find a charger capable of delivering that much juice. Tesla is rapidly upgrading its Supercharger network to 250 kW of power, but not every Tesla ever made will be able to take advantage of that much power.
As it is, when hooked up to a high power charger, the e-tron can add 54 miles of range in just 10 minutes, or 163 miles in 30 minutes. Charging time can offset the disadvantage of shorter range in some cases, if there is the necessary charging infrastructure along a given route.
In the Audi vs. Tesla sweepstakes, the Model X 100 offers 298 miles of range, but lists for about $10,000 more than the e-tron. And of course the Audi is eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit, at least for the moment. In the rarefied atmosphere in which both vehicles will travel, will a few dollars one way or the other sway customers who are cross shopping both vehicles?
Probably not. Audi’s conservative strategy may pay dividends down the road in terms of battery longevity but will surely be a detriment at first blush. For the moment, it seems the e-tron is a pretty good car going up against several other pretty good cars and one really terrific car. Audi’s marketing people must be tearing their hair out over the company’s super cautious approach to measuring range.
Not to put too fine a point on it, the Model X has a 100 kWh battery and is rated at 289 miles by the EPA. The e-tron has a 95 kWh battery and is expected to have 204 miles of EPA range. It doesn’t take a math genius to wonder if Audi, et al., simply don’t know how to build electric cars that are as efficient as the products from Tesla. Everybody is talking about the “Tesla killers” on the way from major manufacturers, but in truth it seems none of the contenders waiting in the wings are truly the equal of the cars from Fremont.