Audi’s first all-electric car, the e-tron, is ready to plug in.
The German company’s mid-sized SUV was revealed in Richmond, California, only about 40 miles from Tesla headquarters in Fremont, where the electric Model X SUV is made. After a boat ride and an Intel Shooting Star mini drone light show, the car was finally unveiled Monday night at a former Ford assembly plant on the waterfront. Diplo manned the DJ booth at the post-reveal party for the car.
This car is meant to be totally … “normal.”
That’s the word Filip Brabec, Audi VP of product management, used at a pre-launch event Monday in San Francisco.
“What was so important for us was the transition from internal combustion engine to an electric car is as seamless as possible,” he said. “We didn’t want to create a car that is edgy and quirky and different.”
To show off it’s very normal automobile, Audi took over a music venue across from San Francisco City Hall, where it had e-tron sports and racing car prototypes on display. Audi also showed off its virtual side mirrors — a feature that isn’t allowed on U.S. models, only its European cars. A HoloLens exhibit let you “see” the car charging and regenerating energy from braking, and a sample fast charging station from Electrify America glowed green.
Reservations for the e-tron — which will hit the U.S. market in the middle of 2019 — opened up Monday night with a refundable $1,000 deposit. The base price for the electric SUV is $74,000. A “Prestige” version with heads-up display, driver assist features, massage seats, and more luxury add-ons is $81,800. A “First Edition” model (Audi’s making only 999 units) will be available for the increased price of $86,700.
The car’s two electric motors accelerate the e-tron from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph. The batteries are beneath the car cabin and each battery stores 95 kWh of energy. The range is expected to be 250 miles — but that’s only in Europe. An American range hasn’t been determined yet. Braking can also regenerate energy for the battery.
With fast charging, the car can reach an 80 percent charge in about 30 minutes. Audi is working with Amazon Home Services to help owners install a home charging system, which will take all night to charge the vehicle.
Audi has also partnered with Electrify America, which plans to have 500 fast-charging sites around the U.S. by July 2019, many outside of retail spots like Walmart or Target.
Inside, Audi says its usual features will still be found, like the virtual cockpit, wireless smartphone charger, and touchscreen controls.
Audi execs promised a wide lineup of 20 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2025 — the e-tron is just the start. Ten will be fully electric. Its world premiere came on the same day that Volkswagen announced it would be making 27 electric vehicles by 2022.
Everyone’s going electric. Even if Audi claims “electric has gone Audi.”