Skip to main content

Here’s how Audi increased the electric E-Tron’s driving range

Audi isn’t resting on its laurels. Less than a year after it released the E-Tron, its first series-produced electric car, Audi made a series of hardware and software changes to the model’s powertrain that unlock additional driving range.

“Residual brake torque” is one of the enemies of driving range, the German company explained. The term refers to the drag created when brake pads are positioned very, very close to discs. Rather than pushing the pads out, which would increase the E-Tron’s stopping distance, engineers redesigned the braking system to reduce residual brake torque.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The E-Tron’s all-wheel drive powertrain consists of an electric motor for each axle. Software changes turn the front motor almost completely off in normal driving conditions, when it’s not needed, to reduce the amount of drag it generates. It’s immediately engaged when the driver needs more power, or when the rear axle begins losing traction. Think of it as a cylinder deactivation system — which, on the RS 7 Sportback, turns the V8 into a V4 — for electric cars.

The vehicle development team then turned its attention to the recuperation system that converts kinetic energy into electricity that gets channeled back to the battery pack. The E-Tron still offers three regeneration levels, but they’re more spread out than before, which should allow motorists to drive using only the accelerator pedal in many conditions, and not touch the brakes. When we drove the E-Tron, we noted we’d like the option to dial in more regen, and now it sounds like it’s finally here; we can’t wait to try it. Finally, Audi also made the cooling system more efficient and less energy-dependent, while increasing the amount of usable battery capacity from 83.6 to 86.5 kilowatt-hours.

All told, the E-Tron can cover 15.5 additional miles on a single charge, meaning its battery pack delivers 270 miles of range on the notoriously optimistic WLTP testing cycle used in Europe. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the model a 204-mile range. If our version gets the same tweaks, its range could go above the 210-mile mark.

Will it? That’s a mystery for the time being. As of writing, the upgrades that unlock more range have only been announced for the European-spec E-Tron. Audi hasn’t revealed whether the American-spec model will benefit from the same changes in the coming months. We’ve reached out to the company for clarification, and we’ll update this story if we learn more.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
2022 Volkswagen ID. Buzz first drive review: The iconic hippie hauler goes electric
Volkwagen's ID. Buzz drives down the road.

Volkswagen's growing family of ID-badged electric cars has a new mascot: the ID. Buzz. Inspired by the vintage air-cooled Bus models and previewed by a close-to-production concept unveiled in 2017, the heritage-laced van offers an electric powertrain, an eye-catching design, plus an interior that's high-tech and almost lounge-like. I tested a Buzz prototype in England in February 2022 and walked away impressed, and time driving a regular-production model in and around Copenhagen, Denmark, confirmed these impressions. This was worth the wait.
Design and interior
While you can tell that the Buzz is on the same branch of the Volkswagen family tree as the split- and bay-window Buses prized by hippies decades ago, designers decided not to go full-retro as they did with the New Beetle released in 1997. The headlights aren't round, for example, and they're much higher than the original van's. It's the same story out back: The lights are horizontal, located right below the big hatch's window, and connected by a light bar. This is intentional -- Volkswagen aimed to echo the original model without cloning it.

In terms of proportions, the Buzz is pretty spot on. The front end isn't entirely flat and the front doors are positioned behind the front wheels rather than over them, but the design is as close to the old van's as modern regulations allow. The Buzz variant that I drove in Denmark measures 185.5 inches long, 78.1 inches wide, and 76.8 inches tall, so it's about as long as a Tiguan but around 10 inches taller and five inches wider. This is what Volkswagen refers to as the short-wheelbase model, and it's not coming to the United States. We'll get a long-wheelbase model that hasn't been unveiled yet; it should look just like the European-spec model but with more space between the front and rear axles.

Read more
Cadillac Lyriq first drive review: Electric manifesto
Front three quarter view of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV.

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq feels like it’s taken forever to arrive, and not just because Cadillac first showed it almost two years ago. This electric SUV is also a big step toward fulfilling General Motors’ EV potential.

GM showed that it could be a leader in electrification with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, but never seemed confident enough in the little electric hatchback to aggressively promote it. The GMC Hummer EV debuted GM’s next-generation Ultium tech, but in the form of a four-wheeled vanity project targeting a small market niche.

Read more
How do electric cars work? EV motors and batteries explained
Electric GT e-Crate Motor Tesla battery

Electric vehicles function in fundamentally different ways than traditional cars. Internal combustion engines have loads of moving parts, and while EVs have their own complexities, they're much more digital than mechanical. Let's take a closer look at exactly how electric vehicles work.
How does an EV battery pack work?
Instead of gasoline, EVs derive their power from a battery pack, which usually stretches along the underside of the car to keep the weight as low as possible. It's composed of multiple modules, which are in turn broken down into individual battery cells, similar in size to AA batteries. A layer of coolant runs between cells since hot batteries are explodey batteries. A battery management system regulates that coolant and ensures that each cell drains at the same rate, which prolongs the life of the pack.


Read more