Audi focuses on battery to make Q7 e-tron stand out from plug-in rivals

The Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid can accelerate from 0 to 100kph in 6.2 seconds while consumption is as low as 1.8 liters of diesel per 100km. The SUV offers a full-electric range of 56km.

MADRID — Audi expects its Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid to stand out from a fast-growing list of competitors that includes BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volvo because of the investments it has made in the SUV’s battery charging system.

Audi says that the Q7 e-tron’s two-phase charging technology is the most powerful currently offered in Europe. As a result, getting a full charge from an industrial socket with an output of 7.2 kilowatts only takes about two and a half hours.

The Q7 e-tron also has a standard thermal management system with integrated heat pump that was specially developed for the plug-in hybrids. Audi says this help the Q7 offer better interior comfort and climate control efficiency.

“The Q7 e-tron is the most complex car ever to roll off the assembly line in Bratislava,” Audi engineer Bernhard Decker said at the SUV’s press launch here. The Q7 is build alongside the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg SUVs at parent VW Group’s factory in Slovakia.

Growing lineup

The Q7 is the second model in Audi’s e-tron lineup after the A3 plug-in hybrid, which the automaker has had to increase production for three time within the last year. “We have sold more A3 e-trons than a competitor in Munich has sold of its compact electric vehicle,” said an Audi manager who declined to give detailed figures and asked to remain anonymous.

Audi sold 11,791 A3 e-trons in Europe last year compared with 5,481 full-electric versions of the BMW i3, according to data from JATO Dynamics.

(If the 6,566 i3s with a range-extender engine sold in Europe were included in the count, the i3 model family outsold the A3 e-tron in Europe by 256 units, JATO’s figures show.)

Audi plans to offer plug-in hybrid variants in all its model lines. The Q7 and A3 plug-in hybrids will be joined later this year by the Q5 e-tron. The A8 e-tron is due next year while the Q6 e-tron, which will be the production version of the e-tron quattro concept shown at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show, it due in 2018.

Fast facts

Powertrain: The Audi Q7 e-tron’s plug-in hybrid powertrain offers a combined output of 373 hp. Of that, 258 hp comes from a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel while the electric motor delivers 128hp.

Performance: The SUV can accelerate from 0 to 100kph in 6.2 seconds while consumption is as low as 1.8 liters of diesel per 100km. The SUV offers a full-electric range of 56km.

Weight trade-offs: Although Audi has reduced the weight of the second-generation Q7 by more than 300kg compared its predecessor, the e-tron’s hybrid system adds 375kg. The battery accounts for most of that weight, 202kg, while it also reduces the Q7’s trunk capacity to 650 liters from the 890 liters offers in variants with either a conventional gasoline or diesel powertrain.

Launch date: Summer (Europe); year-end (U.S.).

Base price: 80,500 euros (Germany)

Platform: MLB evo (second-generation modular longitudinal platform)

Where built: Bratislava, Slovakia

Lowest CO2 emissions: 48g/km

Rivals: BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, Porsche Cayenne, Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid variants