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Audi e-tron: new pictures show high-tech cabin

Audi has revealed more technical details of its upcoming electric SUV, which will be revealed on 30 August

Audi’s upcoming e-tron will be available with the world’s first ‘virtual’ exterior mirrors, helping to reduce the car’s aerodynamic drag coefficient to just 0.28 – and new images of the cabin show how they’ll be located.

The optional cameras (see picture below and gallery) replace conventional door mirrors and project digital images onto screens located inside the car where the front doors meet the dashboard.

First ride: Audi e-tron 2018 prototype

These more compact exterior cameras combine with active aerodynamics and air suspension that can lower the car into its most aerodynamic position when cruising, giving the car a claimed drag coefficient figure that makes it 0.04 slipperier than the smaller Q2 SUV.

Audi says that without the e-tron’s selection of drag-reducing features, the large electric SUV would be 21 miles shorter on range per charge. With them, the car is good for a 248-mile range, according to WLTP (which is a tougher test than the outgoing NEDC test). At the Audi summit, a source confirmed to Autocar that a 500km (310 miles) range is possible. Acceleration will be on par with other Audi Sport models.

Audi’s new official images show the car’s aerodynamics at work – and demonstrate the minimal drag created by the small virtual mirrors.

The car, which is due to be fully revealed in August, will be powered by a dual-motor powertrain using a 95kWh lithium ion battery and capable of 150kW DC fast charging. The latter is claimed as a world first and is 30kW more rapid than Tesla’s Supercharger network. It can charge the car in just 30 minutes,

Also confirmed is the use of alternating current AC chargers that can top up the battery by recovering energy on the move. As standard, the car will feature 11kW chargers for this, although 22kW chargers will be available as an option to enhance the recovery rate.

“We have decided to keep the e-tron name and use it like quattro,” an Audi source told Autocar. “The first of our sporty models was simply named the Audi Quattro. Our first all-electric car will simply be badged Audi e-tron.”

While powerful, the production e-tron’s output is less than the 496bhp quoted for the two concepts shown so far, because those featured a three-motor powertrain with a single front motor and twin rear motors.

However, the choice of a twin-motor layout at launch paves the way for Audi to introduce a performance e-tron powered by three motors a couple of years later.

The battery is not light, though, contributing at least 700kg to the e-tron’s kerb weight.

A key part of the battery is a water-based ‘lattice’ cooling system, bonded to the underside of the modules to maximise heat transfer and shedding heat through a conventional, front-mounted radiator. A second heat pump system with a plate heat exchanger – in effect an air-con system – can boost cooling or heating to keep the battery at its optimum operating range of 25-35deg C in extreme climates.

The 150kW DC fast charger will take advantage of the IONITY rapid-charge network being set up by a consortium of Europe’s car makers.

The size of the e-tron suggests it’s a Q6 in all but name, but Voggenreiter hinted that the Q6 is a separate project. He cited speculation that the Q6 should be a “four-door SUV-coupé” based on the Q5, in a similar style to the forthcoming Q8 being spun off the Q7.

Voggenreiter said the e-tron isn’t the Q6 because it’s “not a four-door SUV-coupé, but a sporty SUV”.

Speaking at the Audi Summit, CEO Rupert Stadler said: “It will have the best technology and be the most beautiful of electric cars.” Commenting on Audi’s electrified sales targets, he said: “By 2025 we will have 800,000 sales a year of electrified cars with electric cars and plug-in hybrids. Every third Audi will be electrified. All our production sites will be carbon neutral by 2030.”

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