New all-electric Audi Q6 e-tron SUV revealed at Frankfurt show

Audi Q6 e-tron

After several rumours and design sketches, Audi has revealed its Q6 e-tron electric SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Although it’s a concept for now, the production version is due in 2018.

Despite the concept bodywork, Audi makes some bold claims about the engineering underneath, stating the four-wheel drive model will use active aerodynamics, three electric motors and a large lithium-ion battery pack to offer a 310-mile electric range. 

Audi Q6 e-tron

The new design reveals a dynamic SUV design that’s a significant departure from the current Q5 and Q7, and showcases clear influence from new design boss Marc Lichte.

The sleek profile and chiselled styling shows the electric Q6’s positioning as a rival for the Tesla Model X, as well as conventionally-fuelled rivals such as the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe. It sits between the Q5 and Q7 in size, and Audi claims that the sporty appearance and sealed underbody offer a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.25cd.

Audi has also revealed it will debut new Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) lighting technology on the concept. The lights, which are continuously variable and require no reflectors or guides, will eventually be used in Audi’s production models across the range.

What can we expect from the Q6?

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has previously opened up about the zero-emissions SUV, believed to be badged Q6, claiming it will be “sexy”, “packed with utility” and “sporty.” He also confirmed it will arrive by 2018 – to coincide with big developments in the charging infrastructure.

The model, which was confirmed for production, along with an official sketch, at Audi’s annual press conference last month, will take on the Tesla Model X in terms of range. “When it comes to a battery electric vehicle it was very clear for us, a range of 500km is a must,” said Stadler, talking exclusively to Auto Express at the Shanghai Motor Show.

• Audi plotting Tesla rivals 

“Some years ago SUVs were disliked and seen as not fuel efficient, we have proved through lightweight technology and electric drive trains that they can be highly efficient,” he added. “Believe me, the premium customer is prepared to pay a little bit more to say I’m doing everything well for the environment.”

“Now with our engineers and our battery-cell suppliers we are at a stage where we can say, yes, this is feasible and we believe that with the ongoing investments in terms of infrastructure development we think that 2018-2019 is the right time to come up with such a car. It will look nice, it will have sufficient range and we think the infrastructure will be sufficient in terms of supercharging.”

Audi Q6 e-tron concept front

Stadler pointed to China as an example of sweeping changes to the charging infrastructure, essential if the market for electric cars is to thrive: “What we are seeing in China at the moment is there are some government decisions that will put superchargers every 50km on 16,000 to 17,000km of highways. If this happens and this will happen then it could be an accelerator and create some good momentum. Hopefully the Europeans will follow.” 

 

Sitting above the Q6 and the Q7 in the range, Stadler also confirmed a range-topping Q8 is in development: “Yes there will be something above [the Q7] and it will be more expensive than the Q7.” When we used the new £150,000 Range Rover SVAutobigraphy as a benchmark for how upmarket the Q8 could go, he said it will “easily” take the fight to that car. 

 

Not all his plans involve SUVs, though. As showcased by swooping roofline of the Prologue Allroad concept in Shanghai, a CLS Shooting Brake rival could be on the cards. “Normally concept cars are an exaggeration, but nevertheless you want to get feedback and a taste for whether this type of car is on people’s buying lists or not. Why shouldn’t the station wagon not get more sporty? So let’s wait and see, it was a very good exercise.”

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