Audi has confirmed that a new all-electric e-Tron concept car will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next month, previewing a compact SUV that will be introduced into the firm’s line-up in 2020. These latest design sketches preview the new concept’s interior.
Officially called the Audi Q4 e-Tron concept, it’s a compact coupe SUV using the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric car platform. When it enters production towards the end of 2020, it’ll be the first Audi using the VW Group’s multi-billion pound electric vehicle architecture.
Audi’s latest interior sketches reveal more information about the cabin’s design. The layout seems to be inspired by the larger GT concept, using a hexagonal steering wheel and a near-identical centre console, with a touchscreen infotainment system angled slightly towards the driver.
Of course, the interior is packaged ever so slightly differently, due to the diminutive size of the Q4 e-Tron in comparison to the e-Tron GT and the fact that this new concept uses the VW-Group’s new MEB platform, compared to the Porsche Taycan underpinnings used in the GT.
Exterior design sketches suggest a cab-forward design for this compact coupe SUV, which makes use of the lack of engine up front to maximise interior space. The front end of the vehicle appears to be a slightly updated take on the firm’s current design language, with a large eight-sided grille flanked by a pair of very thin headlights. The front apron itself sports a pair of gaping, angular cuts, with an illuminated e-Tron badge sitting above the front splitter.
Look down the sides of the vehicle and two strong front and rear shoulders are found above the front and rear axles, while a thick C-pillar emphasises the Q4 e-Tron concept’s rakish rear. In the metal, the concept car should appear a little more conventional than these sketches. When the production model is unveiled in around two years from now, it’ll be toned down even more, with our exclusive images previewing the road-going version.
While Audi’s full-size e-Tron SUV joins the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace, and will soon take on competition from Mercedes and BMW, this small, premium electric SUV space is an as-yet-untapped market. Audi wants to place a serious marker here, to get the jump on the Tesla Model Y, the all-electric version of the Volvo XC40 and a rumoured small electric SUV from Mercedes, all of which are tipped to surface in 2019.
This new vehicle is, in effect, an all-electric sibling for the new Q3. Even in its final full year in dealers, the previous-generation Q3 brought in more than 200,000 sales worldwide for the company. As such, introducing an electric option in the crossover segment and pouncing to get there early could be a lucrative move.
VW-Group’s new MEB platform: design and application
While Audi’s larger e-Tron SUV uses a bespoke platform, this smaller newcomer will be a product born of Volkswagen Group modularity. It’s not just the first Audi to use the group’s multi-billion-pound new one-size-fits-all MEB platform for electric vehicles; it should be one of the first SUVs in the VW Group to sit on the architecture.
The MEB platform has been described as a ‘skateboard’-like system, allowing the batteries, electric motors and most of the major cooling hardware to be packaged low and even recessed into the base of the chassis. This means Audi will be able to create an electric car the same size as the Q3, but with interior space rivalling that of the brand’s best-selling SUV, the larger Q5.
It’s anticipated that the electric crossover will be offered with all three of the MEB system’s different battery sizes. The Volkswagen Group has still not clarified the exact sizes of the platform’s battery packs, nor the final ranges, but a 48kWh model capable of 205 miles on a single charge is expected to form the cheapest option, with longer-distance 60kWh and 80kWh versions also offered, enabling up to 310 miles of electric range.
Beyond the new electric crossover, Audi has already confirmed it plans to introduce 12 all-electric e-Tron models by 2025. A coupé version of the e-Tron SUV could be next on the bill.
Click here for our list of the top 10 electric cars currently on sale…