Look out Tesla: Audi’s Q8 e-tron is gunning for the luxurious Model X crossover

audi q8 e tron electric suv could arrive by 2017 crosslane concept
Audi's Crosslane Concept

Look out Tesla; Audi has your number.

While electric-car fans eagerly await the arrival of the Tesla Model X, reports indicate that Audi has approved an electric SUV of its own for production.

Called the Q8 e-tron, it will reportedly use powertrain components from the on again, off again R8 e-tron supercar. It will have an electric motor for each axle, and a large battery pack to give it a comparable range to the Tesla.

The electric powertrain will be one of many offered in the Q8, which will sit atop the Q7 when it arrives sometime around 2017. Gasoline and diesel versions are reportedly in the works as well, plus a sporty SQ8 and a plug-in hybrid.

The Q8 is expected to have more evocative styling than the family-hauler Q7, including a lower roofline and sleeker overall silhouette. If that’s true, the Q8 may be more of a BMW X6 rival than a jacked-up A8.

Regardless of how Audi tries to spin the internal-combustion versions, it reportedly plans to market the Q8 e-tron to urban customers who want a zero-emission vehicle, but can still afford a big, luxurious SUV.

Audi officials told Autocar that they believe buyers in the Q8’s market segment view greenness as “indivisible” from traditional premium-car values. Adding an electric powertrain to a vehicle like the Q8, though, doesn’t exactly create compromises between the two.

While Tesla has enjoyed runaway success with the Model S, established luxury carmakers have tried to work electric cars into their lineups. Mercedes-Benz has tried to cover both ends of the scale with the overpriced SLS AMG Electric Drive and the upcoming B-Class Electric Drive, while BMW will field the tiny i3 and the plug-in hybrid i8.

Yet none of these cars are the types most people actually buy. After all, the Model S and Model X aren’t supercars or city cars, they’re a midsize sedan and crossover. By pouring its electric powertrain technology into the Q8, Audi might have the right idea.

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