The battle for electric car supremacy is starting to really heat up now that established automakers are joining the fray. The most recent salvo was launched by Audi in the form of the 2019 e-tron, a mid-size crossover SUV with a big 95-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and a reasonable $75,795 starting price.
As Audi details in this behind-the-scenes video looking at the crossover's gestation, the e-tron had one of the most expensive development programs in Audi's history. Not surprising considering the vehicle represents the start of the transition away from internal-combustion engines to electric motors, not only for Audi but also its Volkswagen Group parent.
The e-tron is the German auto giant's first electric car designed from the ground up to run on electricity, so the development team were under tremendous pressure. Thousands have been involved, working over a period of about four years and in four different continents.
The video above provides a vast number of insights into the development program, including a look at the production process of the battery and electric motors. Interestingly, the e-tron's plant in Brussels, Belgium, is the first electric car plant where the batteries are assembled alongside the cars they will power.
2019 Audi e-tron battery pack
The e-tron made its debut last fall and is due in showrooms in the second quarter of 2019. There's already an online reservation system set up if you'd like to be one of the first to take delivery. The first 999 examples will be a pricey First Edition starting at $87,695.
Audi says specs for the e-tron will be announced closer to the market launch, though the automaker estimates the vehicle will come with roughly 400 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque from a pair of electric motors, one at each axle. However, this will be a peak rating lasting for a limited period. Think of it as something like an overboost function.
Normally, the e-tron will operate in rear-wheel-drive mode, with the front motor only adding power when needed. Audi says the e-tron will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 124 mph. And when properly equipped, the vehicle will also be able to tow 4,000 pounds. The range is estimated at somewhere between 200 and 250 miles on a single charge.
Those seeking more performance will have to wait about another year as this is when the Audi Sport division is expected to introduce a three-motor e-tron with more power and rear-wheel bias.