Audi continues its love affair with lower case names for its electric cars, but is ramping up performance for the e-tron and the forthcoming e-tron Sportback with a three-motor drivetrain it says will be a first for production electric automobiles. [Tesla has 4 three-motor models in the pipeline — the Plaid versions of the Model S and Model X, the Roadster 2.0, and the Cybertruck.] The e-tron S — which should logically be called the e-tron s — and the e-tr0n Sportback S — which logically should be called the e-tron sportback s — will be officially unveiled online this week.
Both cars will have a separate motor for each rear wheel which will permit “electric torque vectoring with active and fully variable torque distribution on the rear axle,” according to an Audi press release, and a third electric motor for the front wheels. They will have up to 370 kW (496 horsepower) and 973 Newton-meters (717.6 lb-ft) of torque available in 8-second bursts during what the company calls Boost Mode. The 0 to 100 km/h time for both cars will be 4.5 seconds — a full second quicker than the standard versions of the cars. Under normal driving conditions, the cars will have 429 horsepower on tap — 75 more than in the standard cars.
Audi says the front motor will not be used for ordinary driving. It will only be called upon when maximum power is desired or to balance the cars when road conditions get slippery. It could also add stability in high speed turning maneuvers, assuming owners will wish to impress the bride and kidlets with the unbridled urgings of Dad’s new ride. Hey, the point is not that people will test the maximum adhesion limits of the cars, it’s that they could if they choose to.
“If the ESC stabilization control is set to Sport and the Audi drive select dynamic handling system is set to maximum performance with Dynamic mode, the drive layout facilitates a high level of transverse dynamics and, on request, controlled drifts as well. The driving behavior is predictable at all times, and is characterized by an ultra-high level of safety and reliability,” the press release says.
Anything else we should know about the performance versions of Audi’s electric cars? Yes, indeed, buckaroos. The wheel arches are a “whopping 0.9 inches wider,” the company proclaims. Be still my beating heart!
The question on everyone’s lips is, how will these new powertrain options affect range? The current e-tron with its 95 kWh battery struggles to get much more than 200 miles out of a single charge. The sport models will use the same battery but weigh slightly more because of the third motor. Couple that with the tendency to press a little harder on the accelerator because of the increased performance available and drivers may find themselves stopping more frequently then they care to to top up the battery.
Audi has not released any prices for the Sport (or sport) version of its electric cars. Perhaps that will be part of the official reveal on March 3.
Audi Tapped To Lead Volkswagen Development
In a separate announcement, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess says he has tapped Audi to “take the lead for research & development within the brand alliance.” Diess says, “Given the strong dynamics of change in our industry, we are pooling our strengths in the Volkswagen Group and positioning ourselves competitively for the future. Going forward, the Audi brand with Markus Duesmann as its new CEO will take over the lead for research & development in the Volkswagen Group and thus swiftly assume technical leadership.”
Audi’s motto has always been Vorsprung durch Technik, which can be loosely translated as “Progress through technology.” With that tradition, it may be only fitting that it should take the lead in developing new technologies that will be shared with the entire Volkswagen Group. Now if it could just get someone involved in naming its cars who knows a thing or two about capitalization…