Audi’s electric SUV due on the market in 2018 will be built at a plant in Brussels, Belgium, the automaker today confirmed. The plant will also produce batteries for the entire Volkswagen Group.
Audi says the e-tron quattro concept car unveiled at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show is a clear indication of the production version of the electric SUV, which will likely be called the e-tron. This means the vehicle will be a mid-sizer with sleek, coupe-like styling.
The vehicle is being designed from the ground up to be an electric car, though it will sit on a platform related to the MLB platform found in the latest models from Audi. Versions with conventional powertrains are no longer expected. (The car was previously thought to be called a Q6 and offer multiple powertrain types.)
The electric powertrain is being developed using knowledge gained in the development of the R8 e-tron electric supercar. Three electric motors—one on the front axle and two on the rear—will feature, as will a large lithium-ion battery positioned between the axles and below the passenger compartment, helping to lower the center of gravity and provide better balance.
Audi has confirmed the vehicle will utilize batteries developed with Korean firms LG Chem and Samsung SDI and feature a range of 310 miles on a single charge. This range is almost certainly based on the European testing cycle, which produces longer range ratings than our own EPA tests. A reasonable rating here might be 240 miles or so.
Audi says the electric SUV will be a sporty option positioned between the Q5 and Q7. However, given its technology we expect it will be the most expensive SUV in the automaker’s lineup—at least until a Q8 arrives. The Q8 will be Audi's Range Rover rival rolling in around 2019.
The Belgian plant where Audi will build its electric SUV is currently responsible for the A1. Production of the subcompact hatch will be moved to a plant in Spain ahead of the electric SUV’s arrival.