Audi e-tron: New Concept Car Revealed in Detroit

Following its Frankfurt show, R8-derived electric prototype, Audi has developed another concept car, this time appearing more affordable and aimed at TT - rather than purely top-end - buyers.

The latest e-tron is considerably shorter (3930mm against 4260mm) than the previous car and carries very attractive, lightweight aluminium and carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic 'hybrid' bodywork. A width of 1780mm and a 1220mm height complete the compact package.

The rear-wheel drive car is powered by two electric motors (mounted on the rear axle), producing a combined output of 204PS (with 2650Nm, or 1955lb ft, torque). Weight – always an issue with battery-powered vehicles – is a competitive 1350kg thanks to careful use of high-tech materials and a powerful lithium ion battery pack.

Audi promises that the new car will sprint from 0 to 62mph in 5.9 seconds, and accelerate from 37mph to 75mph in 5.1 seconds. Top speed is limited to 124mph (to squeeze the maximum possible life out of the batteries) and the car will have a range in the NECD combined cycle of approximately 155 miles. With a domestic supply of 230 Volts, the new Audi can be recharged from ‘flat’ in 11 hours; however, heavy current (400 Volts, 32 Amps) cuts this to around just two hours.

In addition to the expected brake-regeneration energy technology, the new e-tron also features a heat pump first seen in the Frankfurt show car. An engineering principle employed extensively in buildings, the heat pump uses mechanical work by the motors and brakes to provide cabin heating with a minimum input of additional, stored battery energy. As an alternative, the two-seater can be ‘pre-heated’ while plugged in during overnight storage, thus offering a toasty-warm cabin for the occupants on their morning drive to the office.

Amid a host of other technological wizardry, the Detroit show e-tron debuts electro-mechanical braking. The front brakes use conventional, hydraulic, fixed calipers. At the rear, ‘brake by wire’ has been introduced, with two floating-caliper brakes mounted on the axle, actuated not by traditional hydraulics but purely by electronics.

Audi also used Detroit to launch the all-new A8, covered in detail recently on Classic Driver. This will be a significant model in Audi’s American range and there was even talk of a hybrid version, slated for a possible Geneva show debut this March.

Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Newspress

ClassicInside - The Classic Driver Newsletter
Free Subscription!