We have written earlier about plans of Audi to build an electric SUV, capable of going more than 500 kilometres between charges. But now German luxury car manufacturer is sharing more details about its first large-series electric car. As car is nearing its debut in the International Motor Show (IAA) 2015 in Frankfurt Audi is demonstrating some sketches and technical details on this Tesla Model X competitor.
We already wrote about brands partnership with two high tech companies from South Korea, LG Chem and Samsung SDI to manufacture advanced batteries to allow this SUV to travel for long distances between charges. But key to claimed range of more than 500 kilometres is not only in the battery pack, but also in extremely efficient aerodynamics.
Audi says that the new sporty SUV was designed from the ground up to be electric car – it is not a conventional fossil fuel powered car with batteries and electric motor inside. Car follows the Audi’s “Aerosthetics” idea, which means that technical measures for reducing aerodynamic drag have to be combined with creative design solutions. In other words, car has to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible, but also attractive to the eye. In order to create desired air flow around the car, which is a key to aerodynamic efficiency, SUV will be equipped with movable aerodynamic elements at the front, on the sides and at the rear.
Underbody of the car is completely closed. It means that it is flat, without intruding parts that can create drag. Car does not have exhaust system, which helps to ensure underbody is flat. In fact, car should set a new record for aerodynamic efficiency for SUVs – it has a drag coefficient value of 0.25. In comparison, BMW i8 hybrid sports car has drag coefficient of 0.26 (the higher the number, the bigger the drag), which just illustrates how advanced aerodynamics of this large SUV are going to be. It is largely why car will be able to do more than 500 kilometres between charges. However, looks are as important as efficiency.
Car will be sized between Audi Q5 and the Q7. It is based on the second-generation modular longitudinal platform, which provides desired driving characteristics as well as packaging. It will feature typical SUV body, but cabin will be more coupe-like to enhance dynamic character of the car. It will only seat four people, but Audi says that interior is going to be very spacious. Looking at sketches showcased by the brand, you can notice latest lighting technology – this concept SUV marks the world premiere of Matrix laser OLED technology at the front of a vehicle. In the interior there will be several OLED displays, which will offer gesture controls. Because the electric drive requires no propshaft, which usually goes through the middle of the car, the centre console will look like it is floating.
In order to ensure low centre of gravity and a balanced axle load distribution, large lithium-ion battery is positioned between the axles and below the passenger compartment. Audi claims that such installation of batteries gives this car better driving dynamics and driving safety than other vehicles in the segment, although we will have to wait for automotive journalists to get their hands on this car and new Tesla Model X to get a better comparison. Tesla is going to be also very efficient and sporty, without forgetting attractive styling and futuristic technologies (not to mention “Falcon” rear doors), which means that Audi has to work really hard in order to successfully compete with currently the most popular and the most advanced electric car manufacturer.
Audi exploits it experience with the electrically driven Audi R8 e-tron sports car to develop drive system for the new electric SUV. This car is going to be called the e-tron Quattro, because it will feature all-wheel drive. It will have three electric motors – one on the front axle and two on the rear axle. It will ensure car is capable of good acceleration time as well as traction in the corners. On the other hand, Tesla Model X is too going to feature all-wheel drive and acceleration time of about 3.1 seconds from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h). Therefore, we will have to wait and see how these two electric SUVs will compare when both of them are on the road.