Electric power is the future for Audi.
The German luxury automaker said Wednesday that it is planning to introduce a line of all-electric vehicles beginning in 2018.
Leading the pack will be Audi’s new e-tron quattro electric crossover concept set to debut at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
With an expected range of more than 310 miles, the e-tron concept will serve as the basis for Audi’s first mass produced electric SUV that should challenge Tesla’s long-awaited Model X crossover.
Aesthetically, the e-tron will feature a sleek coupe-like roof line and an aggressive athletic profile. Size wise, the Audi e-tron will be positioned between the company’s compact Q5 crossover and the large 7-seat Q7.
The Audi e-tron SUV is expected to be driven by a trio of electric motors — one between the front wheels and two between the rear. All three motors will be powered by a massive lithium-ion battery pack located beneath the passenger cabin.
Like the Tesla, Audi chose to design the e-tron SUV from the ground up to be an electric vehicle rather than adapt an existing internal combustion model.
The SUV isn’t Audi’s first foray into production electric vehicles. Earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show, the company introduced the 2016 R8 e-tron electric sports car. Audi expects the R8 e-tron to have a range of 280 miles and be able to hit 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.
Unlike the upcoming SUV, the electric R8 will be hand-built and available only in small quantities.
The Tesla Model X crossover is expected to launch this fall and will join the current Model S sedan in the company’s lineup. With an available 90 kWh battery pack, the Model X is expected to have a range of around 300 miles. According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the Ludicrous Mode engaged Model X is projected to be able to reach 60 mph from a standstill in a supercar-shaming 3.2 seconds.
The 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show will run from September 17-27 at the Frankfurt Trade Fairground.
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