Please Do Not Drool on the Electric Audi



LOS ANGELES — The Audi e-tron is to electric cars as dynamite is to fishing. There’s no other way to explain an EV with all-wheel drive, impressive power and absolutely absurd torque.
“Here it is - the future of electric mobility,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, marketing and sales board member of Audi, said as the e-tron made its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
With four motors producing 313 horsepower and 3,319 foot-pounds of torque, the future looks very bright indeed. And it could be here by 2012.
Although the e-tron looks like a converted R8, Schwarzenbauer says it was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle. Simply ditching the R8’s engine and installing a battery pack and a motor (or four) wasn’t an option, he said, because different propulsion technologies require different platforms if you are to maximize performance and handling.
The e-tron uses two motors per axle; they get their juice from a 42.4 kilowatt-hour liquid-cooled lithium ion battery with a claimed range of 154 miles. That’s it as far as specs go - Audi isn’t saying anything more. Asked why the car has such ridiculous torque, Schwarzenbauer smiled and said, “We want to have fun.”
Electric cars are all the rage right now with just about everyone working on one. Audi is the latest to join the party, but Schwarzenbauer says the company has been working on it for awhile now. “It’s not something we started yesterday,” he said. “Five years ago we began to dream of this car. It shows what is possible, and that an electric car can be very, very emotional.”
Schwarzenbauer says the e-tron will see “limited production” by the end of 2012, though he would not say how many cars Audi might build. It remains to be seen how closely such a vehicle will hew to the concept, and whether Audi will retain the four-motor set-up or use something more conventional. Whatever the case, the e-tron will be the first of several electric vehicles we’ll see from Audi, with another model coming by 2013 or 2014.
“This is our first electric vehicle and a stepping stone to our first series production EV,” Schwarzenbauer said. “We are going to have a whole range of electric cars, including small electric cars.”
Photos


The wheels look a lot better in person, but they’re still completely over the top. Kinda like the drivetrain.



We can picture ourselves spending a lot of time there.



No one seems to know what that is, besides extraneous decoration. A window would be much better.


Even the door sills are high-tech.



It’s hard to go wrong with leather and brushed aluminum. Lots and lots of it.



The e-tron uses cameras instead of mirrors because it looks cooler. Concept cars are all about looking cool.



That’s a whole lotta grille. But it matches the wheels