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The e-tron quattro SUV will open Audi’s electric car floodgates

The e-tron quattro Audi will introduce in August will be the brand’s first volume-produced electric car. It won’t be the last, though. Digital Trends learned the German brand has plans to launch 10 battery-powered cars in the next seven years, and it predicts 30 percent of its sales will come from electrified vehicles (including mild hybrids, hybrids, and pure EVs) by the year 2025.

The model offensive will kick off with the aforementioned e-tron quattro, which we got an early look at in Berlin. Production will begin before the end of the year on the outskirts of Brussels, though we won’t see it in showrooms until 2019. Audi will keep the momentum going with a second electric car tentatively named e-tron Sportback. The model will draw inspiration from the eponymous concept introduced during last year’s Shanghai Auto Show (pictured above), meaning it will land as an SUV with a sporty, fastback-like roof line.

Audi hasn’t revealed what its other EVs will be. The firm promises its portfolio of electric cars will range from compact to full-size models. The e-tron quattro will ride on an electrified evolution of the MLB platform widely used throughout the Audi lineup. Looking ahead, Audi will build a majority of its upcoming electric cars on a modular platform it’s currently developing as part of a joint project with sister company Porsche.

“PPE (premium platform electric) is a live project. It’s happening. Audi is the lead engineer on two [variants of the platform], Porsche on one,” Peter Mertens, Audi’s board member for technical development, told Digital Trends. “There are cross-company teams developing and bringing the best engineering know-how of those two companies together,” he added.

PPE will fill the same purpose as Volkswagen’s MEB platform, but it will be for luxury cars rather than more mainstream vehicles. Mertens explained developing a platform for electric cars makes more sense than building battery- and gasoline-powered cars on a common architecture. Bringing a platform to the market takes years and costs millions of dollars, so he understandably called Audi’s decision to take that route a brave one. “It shows our commitment to electrification.”

The e-tron quattro will launch with a 95-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Audi hasn’t ruled out offering buyers a second battery option later in the production run. The brand’s decision-makers don’t feel like they need to market electric cars through a sub-brand, a strategy rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz have adopted.

“We don’t have [a separate structure] for e-tron; we don’t have an e-tron brand. The name represents technology.” Filip Brabec, the company’s vice president of product management, explained in an interview with Digital Trends.

Though Audi-badged electric cars are coming, don’t expect to see the natural gas-powered g-tron models (like the A4 and the A5) sold in Europe arrive in America any time soon. “Infrastructure is the key issue,” Brabec pointed out. “Never say never, and of course we’ll continue to study the market,” he added.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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