Audi Unveils Its New, Tesla-Fighting Electric Sports Car—And It’s a Stunner


Audi just unveiled its latest production vehicle, and it’s a stunner. The Audi e-tron GT is a battery-powered, all-electric sports car, with—in top-performing $140,000 RS guise—motors on the front and rear axles capable of producing 637 horsepower. This provides the sporty four-door with the ability to accelerate from zero to 60 m.p.h. in about three seconds. If you’re not quite so aggressive with the go pedal, it should also be able to eke out well over 200 miles of range on a charge.

Expansion of its electric vehicle (EV) lineup—which currently consists of the pedestrian-looking e-tron SUV—is a top priority for Audi, which for years has staked out a position as a forward-thinking luxury brand, quick to embrace new forms and tech. “Fifty years ago, Audi was nothing compared to our main competitors Mercedes and BMW,” says Marc Lichte, the brand’s global design director. “And the reason why Audi became successful was that Audi made some really bold and progressive decisions.” For Lichte, these include universal implementation of the marque’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system, its use of lightweight aluminum in the underpinnings of its cars, and its abidance of advanced aerodynamics, as in the radical Audi 5000 of the 1980s.

Designing an all-electric vehicle was liberating for Audi’s design director.

Designing an EV—without the constraints of such hard points as an engine, transmission, exhaust system, or gas tank—was liberating for Lichte. “I’ve done with my team more than 100 cars. But e-tron GT is the highlight,” Lichte says. This is because it encompasses many of the elements that car designers often include in concept cars—vehicles meant to foretell an evanescent automotive future. “We like to sketch cars like this: big wheels, short front and rear overhangs, low cabin, long wheelbase,” says Lichte. “This is dream proportions, and this dream became a reality with this package.”

Not that the design was without difficulties: “We wanted to come up with a very low car. But there is this huge battery pack in the floor. So the challenge was to find a technical solution to find space for the rear passengers,” Lichte says. “The solution was that the battery pack isn’t all one layer, like a chocolate bar. It has different layers.” So it is recessed where rear passengers’ feet will go, and is thicker under their seat. This allows the car to be two inches lower than the already sporty Audi A7 sports sedan.

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