Audi’s e-tron Sportback concept previews upcoming electric SUV

Audi will launch its first mass-market electric car, an SUV called the e-tron, next year. But it doesn’t plan to stop there.

The Audi e-tron Sportback concept debuting at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show previews a second electric production model that Audi says will appear in 2019. Audi is getting more serious about electrified cars: it will launch five all-electric or plug-in hybrid models in China over the next five years, plus three all-electric models for the U.S. by 2020.

The Sportback is billed as a “coupe” counterpart to the standard e-tron, with a lower roofline and slightly more expressive styling. It still has four doors, but that doesn’t seem to matter to automakers launching new “coupe” models anymore. SUV “coupes” like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe are selling fairly well, so it’s not surprising that Audi would want to get in on the action. As on many recent concept cars, camera pods replace exterior mirrors to improve aerodynamics.

The powertrain is similar to the one used in the original e-tron concept, with one electric motor powering the front wheels, and a pair of motors at the back. The system produces 429 horsepower, or a temporary 496 hp in “boost mode.” Audi says the e-tron Sportback will do 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds. That’s 0.1 second quicker than the original e-tron concept.

A 95 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack offers a claimed range of 310 miles per charge. That’s similar to the figure Audi quoted for the original e-tron, and both are measured on the European testing cycle. The U.S. testing cycle is a bit stricter, so EPA ratings might drop below 300 miles. The Sportback is equipped for DC fast charging.

The Audi e-tron Sportback will start production in 2019, hot on the heels of the more conventional looking e-tron. That model will begin production at an Audi plant in Belgium next year. Both e-tron SUVs will likely make it to the U.S. as Audi ramps up its electric-car efforts.

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