Audi’s first regular-production electric model, the e-tron Quattro, will arrive in showrooms in about a year. The German firm recently let 250 camouflaged prototypes loose on the streets of Geneva, Switzerland, to give the public an early look at the model in action. Digital Trends caught up with one, and we quizzed Audi’s development chief on the sidelines of the Geneva Auto Show to find out more details about it. Here’s what we learned.
The e-tron is significant partly because it will usher in the design language that will characterize every upcoming electric member of the Audi lineup. The camouflage intentionally leaves little to the imagination. We can tell the e-tron stands out from Audi’s gasoline-powered crossovers with a powertrain-specific octagonal grille that’s wider, shorter, and accented by chromed vertical slats. It’s flanked by sharp headlights that give the e-tron the typical Audi look. Around back, we see intricately designed lights connected by a thin LED strip. In terms of size, it’s slightly bigger than the Q5.
What you see above is what you’ll get, albeit without the psychedelic wrap. Peter Mertens, Audi’s board member for technical development, told us the company remains committed to bringing the model to production with cameras in lieu of door mirrors, a forward-thinking feature car companies have tried to make a reality for years. It will also get an on-demand over-the-air updating system that lets customers purchase features days, weeks, months, or years into the ownership period. Buyers will be able to upgrade how the headlights illuminate the road, for example. It’s conceivable they’ll also be able to unlock more range and/or more power.
Technical specifications remain under wraps. All we know at this point is that — as the name Quattro implies — it will offer weather-beating all-wheel drive. Audi isn’t ready to talk about range yet, either. Mertens promised Digital Trends the e-tron Quattro will be “very, very competitive” in that respect but he didn’t go into specific details. Fast-charging technology will replenish most of the lithium-ion battery pack in just 30 minutes.
Digital Trends can reveal the 2019 Audi e-tron Quattro will make its official debut during a stand-alone event held in Brussels, Belgium, on August 30. Sales will begin shortly after, though Audi has already started taking deposits in certain markets. The company told British magazine Autocar it’s considering offering the e-tron Quattro through a monthly subscription service, a model Volvo has already adopted.
When it lands, the Audi e-tron Quattro will fight in the same segment as the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. The crossover will be part of a multi-pronged foray into electric car territory. Audi will launch a second battery-powered model named e-tron Sportback about a year after the Quattro makes its debut.