Audi already has blueprints of a range of high-performance electric saloons and SUVs aimed at challenging its German rivals as well as Tesla Motors, sources privy with company told Reuters. While people have been averse to EVs due to their high prices, limited driving range and lack of charging infrastructures, many analysts still expects sales to significantly surge by 2020.
Thanks to innovative technology that allowed longer travel distances and lower costs, Tesla has been leading all EV makers. With people taking about Tesla as well as BMW's new "i" electric series, Audi can’t ignore the potential of EVs.
Further disregard of the EV sector could make Audi seem like a laggard in the auto industry where innovation is one of its major appeals. Audi will soon launch its first pure electric car, the R8 e-tron, which is a version of the R8 supercar bound to arrive in Europe in 2015.
Audi R8 e-tron could travel up to 280 miles (450 km) in a single charge -- nearly matching the 311-mile range (500 km) of the Tesla Model S. Audi will only build R8 e-trons as per demand.
The sources, however, did not say how many models were at sight for Audi as well as the scale of any production plans. The sources though told Reuters that one of the drawn blueprints is for an electric version of a new Q8 SUV, which should be targeted against the upcoming Tesla Model X crossover.
Sources said that any new EV at Audi would at least have a range of about 250 miles. Audi's EVs plans will be boosted a current plan to upgrade the MLB architecture already underpins larger models across the VW group like the Audi A8 saloon and Porsche Cayenne SUV.
The platform is seen to be able to cut costs for electric cars. NordLB analyst Frank Schwope told Reuters that major German carmakers have their “electric-car plans ready in the drawer," saying that they want to be prepared when demand for EVs accelerates, which could take five to seven more years.
Audi R8 e-tron bears similarities to the Audi R8 with a petrol engine, but the two vehicle’s bodies have only nine parts in common. The coefficient of drag for the electric high-performing sports car is 0.27. Without a gas combustion engine, the transmission and exhaust create a smoother underbody. At its rear, a lengthy, comparatively steeped raked diffuser redirects air in a way that goes in line with the air flow around the tail. The spoiler edge is a little higher than the R8’s, and it does not have a spoiler.
The electric high-performing sports car has no oil cooler, nor does it require an air intake. Its air inlets at the side and front along with the side blades are closed. Cooling air only comes through the lower section of the single framed grille. This is needed for thermal management. Air flows through the front structure duct and comes out through a front lid opening.
From shaping the multi-sourced heat pump, Audi realised a high-performing thermal management answer for the R8 e-tron that will greatly benefit future production vehicles. The extremely intricate system maintains every important driveline component: the battery, electric motor, transmission, and the power electronics, at ideal temperatures. The heat emissions then control the interior temperature. The economic use of energy increases its range by almost 20 percent.
The heat pump gets its base from the classic principles of a refrigerant circuit. As a new element, it integrates chillers that handle the exchange of heat between the two fluids, the front condenser/evaporator, electric expansion valves, and an added heater controller in the air conditioning unit.