Monday, August 15, 2022

Audi A6 Avant E-Tron concept cuts a sharp electric line to the immediate future

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Audi revealed the A6 Avant E-Tron concept on Wednesday. The sleek wagon concept previews an electric production model that won’t be sold in North America, though its platform will underpin a wide range of electric vehicles to be sold globally by Audi in the coming years.

“With the Audi A6 Avant e-Tron concept, we are offering a completely tangible look at future production models on our new PPE technology platform,” Oliver Hoffman, Audi board member for technical development, said in a statement.

Audi A6 Avant E-Tron concept

The PPE, or Premium Platform Electric, represents the latest battery-electric platform in the Audi family. The first was a flexible MLB Evo platform that underpins much gas and electrified Audi vehicles and launched the Audi E-Tron SUV for 2019 and, later, the E-Tron Sportback. For a while, the Audi E-Tron was the only electric SUV rival to the Tesla Model X. The Audi E-Tron GT performance sedan shares the J1 electric platform with the Porsche Taycan. Then there’s the Audi Q4 E-Tron riding on Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform that underpins the parent company’s ID lineup of electric cars.

Audi sold more than 82,000 electric models globally in 2021, representing a growth of 57%, Audi PR manager Josef Schlossmacher said in a press briefing.

But PPE will be the volume electric platform for the brand moving forward. Developed under Audi’s leadership, PPE will serve as the electric successors to the A4 and A5 compacts, and A6 and A7 mid-size cars. Schlossmacher said this “family of fully electric production cars,” launches with the 2023 Audi Q6 E-Tron mid-size crossover model coming later this year.

Audi A6 Avant E-Tron concept

Audi A6 Avant E-Tron concept

The Avant E-Tron appears to be the crown jewel in the royal E-Tron family, at least in concept form.

Like the related Audi A6 E-Tron concept that debuted in April 2021, the razor-sharp A6 Avant E-Tron concept features a long wheelbase, short overhangs, and a low height of 55 inches.

Measuring 195 inches long and 76 inches wide, and rolling on large 22-inch wheels with seemingly no-profile tires, the Avant E-Tron has muscular proportions wrapped in a futuristic design.

The dimensions mirror the current A6 and A7, but Audi touts a low coefficient of drag of 0.24 on the Avant E-Tron concept (the A6 E-Tron sedan is 0.22).

The aerodynamics should translate to greater efficiency and increased range in the production version. The Avant houses a 100-kWh battery pack stretched within the long wheelbase.

The low flat floor and lack of a transmission tunnel should provide more passenger and cargo space than in the A6/A7 gas variants.

A single motor powers the rear axle, but future A6 Avant E-Trons could house a motor on the front axle for all-wheel drive, as in other E-Tron models. Combined, the AWD model would produce 476 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.

With the single motor, Audi claims a range of 435 miles on the generous European WLTP cycle. It could be 10-20% less on the EPA cycle.

More certainly, the PPE architecture relies on 800-volt charging technology, and Audi says it can be charged from 5-80% in less than 25 minutes on the fast charger at a maximum rate of 270 kW.

Audi didn’t completely shut the door on an A6 Avant E-Tron coming to North America, with reps responding with a non-committal, “Never say never.”

And gas Audis aren’t going away, either.

“We will have a parallel offer in coming years with a classic internal combustion engine,” Schlossmacher said. “The speed of transformation in some markets due to charging infrastructure are not yet on a synchronized speed. We want customers in those markets to be able to drive an Audi.”

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