Audi E-Tron Electric SUV Promises 250-Mile Range Thanks In Part To Fancy Aero Enhancements

Audi is working hard on electrification for its range of cars and SUVs. The automaker has talked up and shown off several e-tron EVs over the years, including in 2015 when it promised to deliver a production e-tron EV crossover to fight the Tesla Model X. Fast forward a few years and we have some new details on the e-tron Quattro SUV EV and its aerodynamic performance. Aerodynamics are particularly important on an EV as the more slippery the vehicle, the farther it can drive per charge.

etron suv qtr

Audi has said that it is expecting the SUV to go for about 250 miles per charge. Audi claimed that it would have the best aero drag performance of an SUV back in 2015 at 0.25, which was then beat by Tesla and its Model X at 0.24. It was a scant amount to be sure, but enough to steal bragging rights from Audi.

etron suv grille

The latest details about the car cite a 0.28 drag coefficient, which is worse than the concept. Audi said of the wind tunnel it used in Ingolstadt, "In front of the low-noise rotor measuring around five meters (16.4 ft) in diameter, the Audi e-tron prototype stares into the eye of the hurricane. On the aeroacoustics test rig in the Wind Tunnel Center in Ingolstadt, the world's quietest vehicle wind tunnel, the Audi engineers optimize drag and noise under extreme conditions. Both are crucial for a car's efficiency and comfort. With an output of 2.6 megawatts, the fan produces speeds of up to 300 km/h (186.4 mph). The Audi e-tron prototype was put through over 1,000 hours of testing here."

etron suv roof

Despite the SUV having a higher drag coefficient than the concept promised, the aero of the SUV is impressive. Audi claims that the aerodynamics on the vehicles have resulted in over 21 miles of additional range.

Audi wrote, "To achieve the drag coefficient of 0.28, the Audi engineers developed a wide range of aerodynamics measures in all body areas. Some of these technical solutions are evident at first glance, while others fulfill their purpose hidden away from sight. Thanks to these solutions, the drag coefficient for the Audi e-tron prototype is almost 0.07 less than for a comparable, conventionally powered vehicle. With a typical usage profile this set-up increases the range by around 35 kilometers (21.7 mi) per battery charge in the WLTP cycle."

One of the tricks that Audi is using to get such good aerodynamic performance is something it calls virtual exterior mirrors. That bit of tech involves replacing the mirrors on the car with cameras that send images to OLED displays inside the car. That tech will be an option where it is legal. Audi also uses suspension that lowers the car at higher speeds and the ride has something called "controllable cool-air inlet."

etron suv cam

Audi wrote, "The controllable cool-air inlet – a frame behind the Singleframe with two electrically operated louvers – also helps lower drag. When shut, the air in this area flows with virtually no swirl. As soon as the drivetrain components need cooling or the air conditioning condenser requires ventilation, the top louver opens first and then both louvers. When the hydraulic wheel brakes are subject to high loads, the controllable cool-air inlet opens and releases two ducts which channel the cooling air into the front wheel arches to the brakes."

The e-tron EV SUV will start production in the next few months and is expected to be available for delivery in Europe by the end of 2018.