The fuel-cell EV, which is a follow up to the 2015 H-tron concept car, should deliver more than 700km of pure electric range, using mostly the same electric motors as its conventional BEV stablemates. But even that will be far from the end of Audi’s EV surge and with half of its global sales coming from China, it’s giving the Asian powerhouse special attention.
"We will launch 10 new SUV variants to the market, of which we will produce seven locally (in China). Four of them will be fully electric," says Stadler.
"All of that belongs to our comprehensive market initiative in China until 2022."
All of Audi’s electric cars will sit on three main chassis platforms. The first will be the E-tron’s pioneering J1 architecture. Its cheaper EVs will use the Volkswagen Group’s high-volume MEB electric architecture (just as the A3 uses the Golf’s MQB platform today), while its higher priced models will use an architecture jointly developed with (and shared by) Porsche.
"We make electric mobility profitable thanks to unique synergies: on the one hand, with the Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) that Volkswagen is developing for the compact segment; on the other hand, with our premium architecture electrification, which we are using for electric vehicles in the mid, upper, and luxury range," Stadler says.
"Through this co-operation with Porsche, we will reduce development costs by a three-digit million amount. By 2025, we will have about 20 electrified models in our product offering across the entire portfolio. More than half of them will be fully electric; the others will be plug-in hybrids. Furthermore, we will equip all core model series at least with mild hybrids. We already offer cars with electrified drive systems in half of our core model series."
The Audi-Porsche architecture differs from the MEB in areas to deliver extra luxury, speed and grip. Its battery chemistries will be different to the mainstream VW-branded EVs, to deliver a lower ride height, a lower floor and a lower centre of gravity to improve handling. It will be largely aluminium, whereas the MEB cars will use a steel-alloy mix.
Having a higher spec chassis for the Volkswagen Group’s higher cost brands is not a new concept, though, because Audi and Porsche (among others) already share the MLB Evo internal combustion architecture for cars like the Panamera, the Cayenne, the Q7, the A8, the A7, the A6 and the A4. The only Volkswagen-branded vehicle to use the MLB Evo will be the upcoming Touareg.