LOS ANGELES – Audi previews its plans for an advanced new electric-powered luxury sedan with the unveiling of the e-Tron GT Concept at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show.
Green-lighted for production in Germany by the end of 2020, the low-slung 4-door is a sister model to the Porsche Taycan, with which it shares a platform as well as key elements of its electric drivetrain and chassis.
In its most potent form, Audi’s new Tesla Model S rival will be fitted with two electric motors developing a combined 590 hp together with electronically controlled all-wheel drive.
The e-Tron GT is earmarked to be the third in a range of 12 new electric-powered e-Tron models planned for sale by the German automaker by 2025, following the recently unveiled e-Tron quattro SUV and next year’s e-Tron Sportback CUV.
The new EV’s J1 platform, developed by Porsche and originally planned to be used exclusively by the Taycan due out next September, has been adopted by Audi for the e-Tron GT in a bid to net the two Volkswagen Group companies economies of scale through component procurement and sharing as they establish their own electric-car lineups.
The J1 structure has been conceived to provide a low center of gravity by housing batteries as low as possible within the floorpan.
Insiders privy to the definitive production version of the new electric-powered Audi say it closely resembles the e-Tron GT Concept, suggesting its appearance will be changed only slightly before it reaches U.S. showrooms in 2021.
To be positioned below the upcoming Taycan at a price expected to see it compete directly against the Tesla Model S (base price $78,000), it builds on current Audi design lineage by incorporating cues from the latest RS5 Sportback, A7 Sportback and R8 coupe in a heavily structured exterior featuring unique styling details said to be reserved exclusively for its new e-Tron models.
Power for the e-Tron GT comes from two synchronous electric motors delivering a combined system output of 590 hp. An electronic quattro all-wheel-drive system constantly varies the amount of drive delivered to the front and rear axles as well as between the left-hand- and right-hand-side wheels dependent on grip levels and yaw rates.
Computer simulations for the new sedan point to a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of just 3.5 seconds, which would make it the second fastest-accelerating Audi model behind the R8. Ingolstadt officials also suggest the production version will deliver a 0-124 mph (200 km/h) time of “just over 12 seconds.”
Audi confirms the most powerful production version of the e-Tron GT will be limited to a top speed of 124 mph (200 km/h) in the interest of range, which is put at 248 miles (400 km) in the WLTP test cycle.
Audi officials say at the Los Angeles unveiling of the e-Tron GT Concept the new 5-door will be developed into a series of production models. This suggests that, like the Tesla Model S, it eventually will be sold with several different power outputs, with the 590-hp figure likely to apply to the range-topping model only. By comparison, the most powerful Tesla Model S, the all-wheel-drive 100D, offers a combined 602 hp from its two electric motors.
A 90kWh lithium-ion battery powers the electric motors of Audi’s third dedicated EV. It uses individual cells supplied by Korea’s LG Chem and is housed wholly within the floor structure, creating what Audi says is a center of gravity comparable to that of the mid-engined R8. While described as being the same battery to be used in the upcoming Taycan, Audi says the e-Tron GT’s unit will offer class-leading energy recuperation.
Audi also confirms the e-Tron GT will offer 800-volt charging that will restore 80% of battery capacity in 20 minutes. It also will be able to charge at lower voltages and, as a likely option on the upcoming production version, via a wireless charging function that allows the battery to be topped off without the need to plug it in.
At 195.3 ins. (4,960 mm) long, 77.1 ins. (1,958 mm) wide and 54.3 ins. (1,379 mm) tall, the e-Tron GT is 0.4 in. (10 mm) shorter, 2.0 ins. (5 mm) wider and 1.7 ins. (43 mm) lower than the second-generation A7 Sportback launched earlier this year. It also rides on a wheelbase that is 1.0 in. (25 mm) shorter than its combustion-engine stablemate at 98.6 ins. (2,900 mm).
Central to the appearance of the e-Tron GT is a new interpretation of Audi’s signature single-frame grille featuring 3-dimensional elements and prominent e-Tron identification within its lower section, large vertical air ducts within the outer extremities of the front bumper, angular headlamps with distinctive laser beam graphics, a deep cutout within the front part of the hood and broad-shouldered front fenders housing charging points on either side.
Inside its latest concept (above, left) Audi has eschewed the use of leather, instead providing it with cloth upholstery made from recycled materials.
As with its Porsche twin, the new liftback boasts two separate cargo compartments – one up front offering a capacity of 3.5 cu.-ft. (100 L) and a larger one at the rear with up to 15.8 cu.-ft. (450 L).
Planned e-Tron GT production numbers are yet to be revealed, though insiders hint at a capacity of up to 20,000 cars during the first full year.