Audi electric cars: EV plans explained, new car teased

Published: 03 October 2019

► Audi's next electrified decade planned
► Confirmed: 30 electrified model lines by 2025
► The platforms, the PHEVs, the future models

The VW Group is racing towards electrification, and Audi is carving its own path for electric dominance in the premium sector.

But what is Ingolstadt doing exactly? How will Audi follow up the e-Tron, and what can we expect in the next few years? Keep reading for a round-up of everything EV from Audi.

The electrification plan

Audi’s new push is to become a ‘new premium’ brand. Audi CEO Bram Schot told CAR at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show that the brand needs to answer customers’ demands by offering a more focused range of models. In an interview with car at Frankfurt, he stated that he would like 25% fewer model lines and variations as quickly as possible, which represents quite a shift in Audi’s philosophy.

Audi PHEV group

Along with the culling of combustion engine product variants, Audi’s goal is to offer more than 30 electrified cars by 2025, with 20 being full BEVs. “We expect that 40% of all Audis sold by 2025 will be electrified. Next year, we will offer 12 EVs and seven plug-ins,’ Schot told us.

Read our Audi Q7 60 TFSIe review

With regards to the range of PHEVs, the first of these come in the shape of the A7 and A8, Q5 and Q7 plug-in hybrids. Gone is the ‘e-Tron’ tag of old, now the PHEV variants are badged ‘TFSIe’ with a numerical prefix. For example, the A7 and Q5 have the ‘55 TFSIe’ badge, while the Q7 and A8 use the ‘60 TFSIe’ badge. As always with Audi now, that number signifies a total system power output range.

Next to join the range of PHEVs will be the Q3 and next-generation A3 hatchback.

Audi’s full electric line-up plans and details

As for the battery electric cars, Audi has confirmed that it will be using four platforms to explode its range of EVs in the decade to come, namely: MEB, MLBevo, J1 and PPE. Please bear with us while we explain these…

Audi platform plans

MEB you might recognise, as it’s the abbreviation that’s been thrown around for the past few years within the VW Group. The platform is designed to underpin small to medium battery-electric cars, with the first production model being the Volkswagen ID.3. Seat’s first shot is the near-identical El Born, while Skoda is already cranking out concepts with the likes of the Vision iV using that same platform. Audi, meanwhile, sees the architecture as useful for its smaller, lower-end cars in the years to come.

MLBevo is already in service with the e-Tron SUV and subsequent derivatives expected soon. It’s an updated version of the MLB platform that VW Group has used for some time, though this one has been engineered to house an all-electric powertrain.

Audi MEB platform

The J1 platform was predominantly developed by Porsche, with Stuttgart using it mainly for the Taycan EV. Audi has nicknamed it the ‘performance platform’ due to its lower centre of gravity and punchy battery outputs. Due to its super-sports potential, Markus Jeschke, Audi’s project manager for the smaller MEB platform, said that J1 ‘cannot have an SUV variant.’ Hence why Porsche’s upcoming Taycan spin-off, the Taycan Cross Turismo, is an off-road estate rather than a full SUV.

The fourth is the least currently known: Premium Platform Electric. This has been designed and developed with Porsche, too, and is a scaleable platform designed for underpinning the higher-end and larger-sized range of vehicles to come from Audi over the next decade. In fact, the PPE architecture has both ‘low floor’ and ‘high floor’ options, meaning it’ll be useful for everything from the next A6 to the next Q7. Audi is already dreaming up saloons, Avant estates and SUVs to run on this platform in future.

Audi electric grou

In fact, Audi revealed in an exclusive behind-the-scenes preview a design study of a forthcoming model designed to sit on the PPE platform. To us it looks like an A7 Sportback with the face of one of the brand’s AI concepts, but that’s arguably a tad reductive. Keep scrolling for more on this elusive new model.

What future electric Audi models can we expect?

Audi e-Tron SUV and e-Tron Sportback

The electric Audi e-Tron SUV is now on sale and, in fact, we’ve driven it in on UK roads. But it’s only the beginning of the brand’s electrification plans.

Earlier in 2019, our spy photographers snapped the Sportback version of the eSUV, and e-Tron Quattro S out testing. There doesn’t seem to be any changes to the bodywork that we can see in the spy shots of the ‘S’ – those will likely come later – but it’s clear that these development mule e-Trons are running on beefed-up wheels and feature a different lowered, suspension.

Audi e-tron S

Underneath however, CAR understands that Audi is cooking up something a little hotter than the current e-Tron – and that may include an extra motor. There are already rumours of a three-motor set up, with a couple of them powering the rear axle. The benefits of that are obvious; a new 640bhp total output ceiling, extra capability for torque-vectoring and a bump in acceleration, too.

Indeed, Audi confirmed to CAR that the e-Tron Sportback will go on sale in Europe in November 2019, with a ‘third, more emotional model’ coming after.

Audi e-Tron GT

How do you move on from a big electric SUV? With a sporty grand tourer, that’s how. The new Audi e-Tron GT continues the new, electric design language introduced on the e-Tron SUV, and transposes it onto an A7-style body – though at 4.96m long, 1.96m wide and 1.38m high, it’s both lower and slightly wider than that conventional grand tourer. And although it uses the aforementioned J1 platform developed by Porsche, this is unmistakably an Audi.

Audi e-tron GT

A few more details about the production version have trickled out. Audi confirmed to CAR that the production e-Tron GT will have quattro all-wheel drive – thanks to two permanently-excited synchronous e-motors, one on each axle – with rear-wheel steering. Power outputs of around 582bhp and 612lb ft are expected, with a 0-62mph sprint time coming in at around 3.5sec. The production version e-Tron GT will go on sale towards the end of 2020.

Audi Q2 e-Tron

Audi Q2 spy shot

We’ve captured a new emission-less version of Ingolstadt’s baby SUV testing, and there are a few changes compared to the ‘standard’ Q2.

Both the bumper and grille of the e-Tron-badged Q2 are a little different to the current SUV, and reflect the new car’s lack of cooling demands – as well as Audi’s ‘e-Tron design language.’

Aside from those small details – and a lack of exhaust pipes – it looks like any other Q2; this understated design tactic is something we’re also seeing with BMW’s forthcoming i4.

Still, it could instead be a plug-in hybrid model using the TFSIe badge.

Audi Q4 e-Tron

Audi Q4

CAR's been reporting on plans for a Q4 to join the Audi range for years now - and the new Audi Q4 e-Tron concept car, gives us a good idea of what to expect.

Audi has confirmed that the Q4 e-Tron will go on sale in early 2021, suggesting that there's still a year’s worth of development before we see the production version. By then it will become the fifth all-electric Audi on sale, reflecting just how fast electrification trends are taking hold.

The Q4 e-Tron will use the VW Group MEB platform given its smaller dimensions. Unlike VW and Seat, Audi thought the best course of action for the MEB platform was an SUV first before any other body style. After that, a smaller saloon and CUV are in the pipeline.

Audi PB e-Tron

Audi PB18

At the 2018 Monterey Car Week, we saw a range of new concept cars from Mercedes to Infiniti, but the Audi PB18 e-Tron that caught our attention. It was the first project designed by Audi’s new Malibu-based North American design team, and looks like a futuristic take on the Audi R8 from the front, but throws away the rulebook completely at the rear.

After a year of being nicknamed the PB18, though, Audi decided to change its name to the AI:Race concept at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show to bring it more into line with the likes of the rest of its super-futuristic concepts under the same tag; namely the AI:Me, AI:Con and Blade Runner moon buggy-like AI:Trail.

From a shooting-brake rear, to a mid-battery-mounted layout, the new PB18 features some key design details which we could see in forthcoming electric production cars like the next R8…

Audi R8 

That being said, no set-in-stone decision has been made on how the Audi R8 and, indeed, the TT are going to be replaced. Speaking about the new cars at Frankfurt, CEO Schot said ‘this is a decision made from the heart. These are halo models and are extremely important to us. They might not be called TT and R8 or they might be called that, either way it is still to be decided. But we do still need to offer a super sports car.’

Audi etron gtr

‘There will be a fully electric version, but we still have to decide if there will be other version two. There is probably going to be a move towards longer range plug-ins for instance. We need to make the decision quickly, certainly within the year, perhaps by Christmas,’ he added.

Our sources suggest Audi is approaching Rimac for help to launch the RS e-Tron all-electric supercar - the zero-emissions rocketship rumoured to replace the Audi R8, which is on death row as the world turns its back on profligate fossil fuel dinosaurs. It's the natural fall-out as the VW Group ruthlessly pivots its product range around the new electromobility holy grail. But that doesn’t mean no more exciting Audis - far from it.

Indeed, if – and that really is quite a large if Audi were to make the next R8 fully electric, it would make sense to use the performance car-oriented J1 platform. A product rep from Audi was quick to quash that suggestion, though, claiming that Audi’s focus for the customer was specifically to make a four-door GT car first: the e-Tron GT. That doesn’t mean it’s not still possible.

Audi PPE design study

Audi PPE design study teaser

It’s still early doors on implementation of this all-new, all-electric platform but Audi’s designers have been hard at work shaping up a first stab at an e-Tron model to come. Its silhouette is very much like that of the A7, with a front end heavily inspired by the AI concept cars; slim black-panelled headlights and a silver blanked out ‘Singleframe’ grille are present and correct.

The PPE platform will use the same 800v architecture as the Porsche Taycan, allowing for less weight (by having thinner wiring looms) and faster charging times compared to more conventional 400v electric cars. It’ll be rear-wheel drive with optional e-quattro all-wheel drive, with Audi aiming for a 310-mile range minimum.

Further electric car reading

The best electric cars and EVs on sale today

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The best hybrids, plug-ins and PHEVs

Wireless electric car charging

By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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