Audi, in recent years, has been heavily pushing towards electrification. While the company wasn’t new to electrified powertrains in the past, the last decade has seen the company evolve its portfolio to go all-electric. These EVs all share a common name, ‘e-tron’. However, while many associate the badge with the company’s recent string of EVs and all-electric concepts, the badge has graced Audi’s concept and production cars for well over a decade!
The 2009 Audi R8-based e-tron Concept was the first to wear the ‘e-tron’ name.
The first use of the e-tron badge goes as far back as the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show where Audi unveiled an all-electric R8-based supercar concept. The concept featured quad electric motors, all-wheel drive, and a 0-100 kmph time of 4.8 seconds. This was followed up by an A1 e-tron concept previewing an EV variant of the brand’s city car. The 2009 e-tron concept returned in an updated form in 2010 in a two-motor rear-wheel drive variant with Audi also unveiling a second e-tron Spyder concept featuring a twin-turbo V6 diesel with two electric motors.
What followed was a string of plug-in hybrid concepts based on the then A3, A6 and even the R8. In fact, an all-electric R8 e-tron made it to limited production in 2015. The same year Audi showcased the e-tron SUV concept, a model that would form the basis for the company’s first dedicated EV model in later 2018. What followed was a string of e-tron concepts including the Sportback, e-tron GT, the radical-looking PB18 concept from Pebble Beach in 2018 and the Vision Gran Turismo.
The second-gen R8 got an all-electric e-tron variant that entered limited production
The e-tron name also featured on multiple production models in the last decade mainly used to differentiate the hybrids from the standard models. Notable examples included the A6 L e-tron from 2017 and the Q7 e-tron that debuted later in the same year.
The RS e-tron GT was Audi’s first all-electric RS model and debuted in 2021
Focusing on Audi’s all-electric models, the e-tron SUV went on sale in global markets in 2019 debuting a dedicated EV platform with Audi following it up with the e-tron Sportback. The e-tron GT concept-based e-tron GT was the next all-electric model to hit global markets when it debuted in 2021. The svelte four-door coupe, which shared its underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan, also went on to form the basis of Audi’s first electric RS model – the RS e-tron GT.
Now rebadged the Q8 e-tron, the electric SUV was Audi’s first model built on a dedicated EV platform.
The all-electric Q4 e-tron and Q4 e-tron Sportback made their global debuts in 2022 with Audi also hard at work with an all-electric A6 e-tron. An all-electric flagship too is on the cards while Audi RS is expected to also roll out more e-tron models going forward. Audi is on a course towards 100 per cent electrification with future internal combustion model developments set to end by 2026. The company plans to have 20 EVs on sale globally by 2025.
Audi’s long association with motorsports saw the e-tron name be used in its race cars including the R18 e-tron LMP1 race car.
Passenger vehicles aside the e-tron name has also had a legacy in racing. The branding adorned the side of Audi’s R18 Le-Mans diesel hybrid race car in the past decade and more recently, the wild RS Q e-tron Dakar racer – a range extender EV off-roader designed to take on the likes of the Dakar rally. Then of-course there has been Audi’s association with Formula E with the company’s race cars wearing the e-tron name.
There’s a lot more in the pipeline as other concepts like the Skysphere, Urbansphere and Grandsphere also seeing the light of day with electrification. Models aside there are new platforms to come as well. Audi and Porsche have been jointly working on a new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture that will underpin future EVs starting with the A6 e-tron. The scalable architecture is set to improve range and performance over current models and be put to use in a range of models from sedans to SUVs. The future of e-tron is exciting!
The string of recent EV concepts points at Audi’s all-electric future.