Audi's E-Tron, All Electric Concept Car Creates a Stir at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Audi generated quite a buzz when it unveiled its E-Tron Electric Concept Car at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which is going on now through September 27. Unlike Toyota’s Prius or Chevy’s Volt (gas-electric hybrids), the E-Tron is a fully electric, high performance sports car with styling and power to spare. The E-Tron employs four fully electric motors paired at the front and rear axles which deliver 313 hp and an almost unimaginable 3,319 pound-feet of torque.

To harness all that power, Audi has incorporated a modified, electronic version of its torque vectoring system commonly found in many of the automaker’s gasoline powered production models. The system delivers torque to each of the four wheels to deliver optimal traction and cornering performance.

With a top speed of 127 miles per hour, Audi says the E-Tron can accelerate from a standing stop to 62 mph in just 4.8 seconds.

Maximum range between recharging is estimated at 154 miles, and the liquid-cooled battery delivers a usable service life of 42.4kWh. The E-Tron’s lithium-ion battery pack is situated behind the passenger cabin to provide the vehicle with the optimal weight distribution and center of gravity. The overall weight loading of 42/front to 58/rear is comparable to the Audi R8.

Drive system, power electronics and battery temperatures, as well as cabin climate, are all controlled by a thermal management system. An auxiliary heat pump warms the cabin air when insufficient waste heat is emitted from the vehicle’s electrical system.

Audi has taken every opportunity to optimize the energy efficiency of the E-Tron. To that end, the regenerative braking system feeds power back to the system when the vehicle’s ceramic brakes are applied. Low consumption LED lighting technology is used throughout, including the adaptive headlights which adjust in intensity to any driving condition including rain and fog.

The sleek, aerodynamic exterior envelopes an equally sleek, futuristic interior in which knobs and buttons have been replaced by touch sensors. Somewhat incongruously, Audi chose an analog speedometer which appears especially “retro” in juxtaposition with the flat screen data and navigation system.

The E-Tron incorporates Audi’s “car-to-x-communication” technology. This new technology provides the vehicle with information processing capabilities that allow the E-Tron to network with other vehicles and its environment. Car-to-x-communication employs a transmitting device that, when fully deployed, could help drivers avoid accidents and traffic congestion and even find the parking space closest to their final driving destination.

As a concept car, the E-Tron is not destined for Audi’s dealer showrooms. However, it does provide a glimpse at Audi’s future direction, as well as its current technical capabilities and design sensibilities. Audi has stated that it plans to implement many of the technologies featured in the E-Tron in its existing production vehicles in the near future.

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