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Car and Driver: Audi Switches Focus to e-tron, Delays Other Models


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Audi e-tron quattro concept


All non-core Audi car development has been put on hold as the diesel-emissions scandal has compelled the premium carmaker to speed the arrival of its e-tron Quattro battery-powered SUV, which the company has announced will reach production in 2018.


Allegedly, the board has diverted engineering and financial resources toward bringing its all-electric e-tron Quattro and hydrogen fuel-cell h-tron Quattro models to market, since Audi simply doesn’t have the resources to deliver the rest. “Everybody is of course concerned about the aftereffects of the diesel crisis, and the thinking is that Audi has to show people we are serious about these kinds of cars,” said a source close to the board.


“Every kind of thinking has changed since the diesel problems. We are pushing to bring zero-emission cars to market as fast as we can now—and pushing to do them right.”


Meanwhile, the Q4, the TT Offroad concept, and the TT Sportback have all been put on the back burner. The Q4, which originally was slated to go on sale this year, is no longer a confirmed development project inside Audi, meaning it couldn’t arrive before 2019 at the earliest. The TT models were part of a dream of retired Audi development director Ulrich Hackenberg to create a TT family of models within the Audi brand. With a coupe and convertible already on sale, there was an internal competition to deliver the third model. The slinky four-door was the favorite of the engineering and design teams, but it was the TT Offroad concept that won the favor of the finance and commercial centers of Audi.

“Every kind of thinking has changed since the diesel problems. We are pushing to bring zero-emission cars to market as fast as we can now—and pushing to do them right.

Instead, Audi is working feverishly to deliver the e-tron and h-tron concepts previewed at the Frankfurt and Detroit shows. The Frankfurt concept (at top) gives us a good look at the battery-electric Q6 e-tron Quattro. Positioned between the Q5 and the Q7 in the lineup, in production form it will have five seats (the concept has four). It will carry its three-motor layout into production, with two electric motors on the rear axle and one on the front to be used at low speeds and under light acceleration. As displayed in the concept, the electric powertrain develops 429 horsepower—with short bursts of 496 horsepower—and 590 lb-ft of torque, and it can reach 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds. Top speed is governed at 130 mph. Range, from the 95-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, is said to be roughly 310 miles.


Audi h-tron Quattro concept


For the range-anxious, the h-tron Quattro (above), due a year after the e-tron version, will deliver more than 370 miles of range and can be refueled with hydrogen in just four minutes. It uses a 121-hp electric motor on the front axle and a 188-hp version on the rear, which combine to deliver a total of 406 lb-ft of torque. Audi boasts that the concept has a 124-mph top speed and a zero-to-62-mph time of less than seven seconds.


Audi says production of the brand’s first-ever electric SUV will take place at its factory in Belgium, which will be devoted exclusively to that model and also will produce the vehicle’s batteries. Although Audi’s U.S. chief has said that diesel has a future even in the United States, it’s sounding very much like Audi would like for the moniker “e-tron” to overtake “TDI” in its association with the four-rings brand.


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