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A battery-powered Audi Q3 could help democratize premium EVs

A battery-powered version of the next-generation Q3 crossover could be part of Audi’s electric vehicle offensive, according to a recent report. The model would compete in a segment that’s expected to grow significantly in the coming years, and insiders suggest it would be relatively cost-efficient to design.

The next Q3 will shift to the Volkswagen Group’s modular MQB platform when it’s introduced either late next year or in early 2018. The new architecture will allow it to shed weight while making it compatible with the group’s latest powertrain components. British magazine Auto Express has learned that Audi is consequently developing an electric, e-tron-badged version of the new Q3 equipped with technology borrowed from the Volkswagen e-Golf.

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If the rumors are accurate, the first electric Q3 will use a compact electric motor that receives electricity from a 35.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the rear seats. It will be faster than the e-Golf — which hits 60 mph from a stop in 9.6 seconds — and it will be capable of driving for over 124 miles on a single charge. An 80-percent charge will be available in less than an hour thanks to a standard quick charger.

Like the e-Golf, the Q3 e-tron will be markedly more expensive than its gasoline-burning counterpart. A plug-in hybrid with the same tech as the A3 e-tron and the Golf GTE will likely bridge the gap between the gas-burning variants and the EV, while an RS-badged model powered by a turbocharged five-cylinder engine put on steroids will sit at the very top of the lineup.

Audi is one of several automakers in the race to bring an electric crossover to the market. Jaguar is working on making the i-Pace concept that debuted last month a reality, and Tesla has previously suggested it’s developing a new crossover based on the upcoming Model 3. By using proven, existing technology, Audi could beat both of its rivals to the punch.