Should I Buy An All-Electric Audi e-tron

motorway

My First Glimpse Of An All-Electric Audi e-tron


It’s Sunday morning. The skies are grey but I cannot contain my excitement.  I have just walked across the entrance threshold of the local Audi showroom.  Multiple floors filled with brand new cars greet my enthusiastic entry.  However, I have an interest in only one model, the all-electric Audi e-tron.

I think I have recognised it, but I am not certain.  The shiny black SUV a few yards from me looks like any petrol or diesel SUV with modern sleek lines.  As I walk across to the front, a glimpse of a charging cable confirms my suspicion.  It is the all-electric Audi e-tron.   

I scramble into the drivers seat like a two year old excited by a new toy.  I am getting myself comfortable in the plush front seats when a person walks up and introduces himself as the ‘sales specialist in electric vehicles’.  

I do not waste time jumping into the conversation.  I start by discussing the battery, real range, torque, acceleration, PiCG grant, residual values etc.  The salesperson quickly recognises that I am the ‘over enthusiastic, well researched type of buyer’.  He in turn was quick to also cement his credibility in the conversation by pointing out he had completed a degree in automotive engineering! 

As we continue the ‘who knows more’ conversation, the salesperson joins me in the front passenger seat.  I glance at the rather strange side view mirrors (cameras) with screens on the inside of the door panel.  

Before I can utter another word, the salesperson quickly interjects.  ‘I don’t like them either’.  He has read my mind.  His candour gets my attention.  Unlike most car salespeople,  he is not trying to defend the impossible.  The good news is that I can order the SUV with conventional side view mirrors.   

Our bonding continues as we move from the ‘theoretical’ to the ‘practical’ i.e. the test drive.  As I switch the electrical vehicle on, my eyes search for only one data point among the three screens.  Is the battery charged?  What is the available range? 

The salesperson has already noticed my frantic eyes and as instantaneous as the start of the ‘silent roar’of the electric drivetrain, responds ‘it is 75% charged, with a current available mileage of 175 miles’. Phew! 

As we move away from the showroom, air pollution and zero emissions become the focus of the discussions.  We both are in full agreement.  EVs are a viable and immediate solution to reducing harmful emissions.  

Audi e-tron 55 SUV quattro Electric
All-Electric Audi e-tron

I forget I am driving an electric SUV but somewhere at the back of my mind is a gentle reminder to glance at the available miles.  All looks good.  I switch the air conditioning on and immediately I notice the available mileage drop by 20 miles i.e. to 155 miles.  Always a gentle reminder that many factors effect the range of an EV.  

But I am not perturbed.  Like the average driver in the UK, I do not travel extensive distances on a regular basis and the 95 kWh lithium-ion battery below me is capable of 241 miles on a full charge.  I turn the AC to maximum and find myself enjoying the smoother ride with a ‘star trek enterprise low engine hum’ in the background.        

The four-wheel drive Audi e-tron is the first production electric car from German automotive manufacturer Audi AG.  The e-tron is a fierce entrant into the luxury all-electric SUV race.  Launched towards the end of 2018, it is a firm and credible head-on competitor to the, now established, Tesla Model X and the Jaguar I-PACE.  

The 2019 model comes in two variants.  The 55 SUV quattro 408 Auto (£71,520) and the 55 SUV Quattro Launch Edition Auto (£82,271). 

The 95 kWh lithium-ion battery can achieve a range of 241 miles (WLTP).  Real range is closer to 200 miles.  Performance, though not as fast as the Model X, is nevertheless decent. 0-100 kph in 5.7 seconds with a maximum speed of 124 miles (brake horsepower: 408 bhp/ torque 490lb/ft). The e-tron has an unladen weight of 2,490 kg compared to 2,108 for the Model X.  

We are now smoothly driving through the busy central London traffic as we make our way back to the showroom.  The salesperson is now on his ‘closing’ sales pitch.  Invariably the issue of finance and residual valuations are highlighted. The Audi e-tron is expected to have better residual valuations in comparison to the Jaguar I-PACE and the Tesla Model X.  

I am not too concerned about depreciation.  With the continued growth of the EV sector, depreciation rates for EVs, are in many ways similar to conventional petrol and diesel cars.  

Thoroughly lost in the enjoyment of the smooth electric drive, I nearly forget the turn back into the dealership.  I would have been happy to have missed it!  


Should I Buy An Audi e-tron?


The reviews from What Car? (4/5), Top Gear (7/10) and Autocar (4.5/5) have been positive.

The Audi e-tron is positioned for the premium end of the market.  The price tag clearly reflects that.  There are certainly cheaper EVs in the market that can achieve a similar range, but not in the same style.  

The lack of seven seats is not an issue if you do not need seven seats.  The increased boot space can be easily leveraged for carrying more luggage for longer holidays.  My only concern is the visibility when reversing the Audi e-tron.  Yes, as you would expect, a premium SUV like the Audi e-tron has a reversible camera as standard equipment.  

However I do like a good ‘old fashioned’ visibility check when I am reversing.  With the Audi e-tron, I did find the visibility restricted when I turned my head around to reverse.  

If you intend to do longer journeys than the local school run, grocery store etc., then an Audi e-tron is worth considering.  However, if the majority of your travel is within a few miles of your home, then I would suggest looking at a cheaper all-electric SUV like the Kia e-Niro which can deliver a similar range at less than half the price.  

As for the Audi e-tron Launch Edition, I would abstain from buying it.  Firstly, its more expensive and the 21” alloy wheels have a detrimental impact on the range.  


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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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