BMW is doing it. Tesla is doing it. General Motors is doing it. Even Chrysler is doing it. But, as yet, Audi isn’t. And why not? Electric vehicles have been around for more than 10 years now, thanks to Elon Musk. And, if current estimates are to be believed, in another 10 years, electric vehicles will comprise more than half of all sales.
Perhaps the biggest issue Audi faces is a lack of development time. Tesla and Chevrolet have been working on fully electric cars for at least a decade. What’s more, they’ve begun building out an infrastructure which will support the expansion of the industry on terms that are favorable to their businesses. Heck, Musk has the Gigafactory, and we can expect that he’ll be charging a premium to any other car maker that wants to buy batteries from him.
Audi, a company which was once firmly committed to gasoline, has had to react. Recently, the company was spotted test driving one of its new e-tron cars, its first fully electric vehicle, slated to go to market in late 2018. The e-tron spotted by Auto Express is apparently an SUV, similar in size to the Tesla Model X, and will serve as a rival to Tesla’s more established cousin. However, whether it will really be a competitor or not remains to be seen.
Recently we got the news that a Model S, bought back in 2012 when the car was first released, had hit the 300,000-mile mark with just 6 percent degradation to the battery. One of the original fears was that battery-powered cars would quickly lose range over the course of their lives and need their batteries replacing every five years or so, pushing the cost of ownership through the roof. But this isn’t what happened at all – in fact, the cost of ownership has collapsed.
According to estimates, you’d need to pay an Audi mechanic around $79,000 to keep an Audi Q7 on the road for 300,000 miles. But according to the owner of the Tesla, his car only cost $11,000 to keep running, and a big chunk of that maintenance cost was the result of being involved in a collision. If you avoid having an accident, running a Model X could be as cheap as $7,500 over 300,000 miles.
So what do Audi have to do? Not only do they have to come up with something which can compete with the established electric players, which surely they will, but they also have to develop cars that gain a reputation for low running costs. Running a luxury car for less than $10,000 over the course of its lifetime seems miraculous, but with electric motors and regenerative braking, it’s entirely feasible.
The design of the new e-tron remains something of a mystery. But from the general proportions, it looks very similar to Audi’s previous SUV models. To appeal to as many people as possible, it’s likely that the new EV will be relatively conventional in appearance, with higher side skirts than in the prototype car.