Audi’s 700km electric A6 e-Tron goes for Tesla’s throat

Audi moves its electric tech to more affordable ranges, and will show a concept electric A6 in China

Audi is fast turning itself into an electric car maker. It's already sold more than 80,000 units of its e-Tron quattro electric SUV worldwide, and last week it introduced its new low-slung e-Tron GT four-door coupé. Neither of these cars, though, are cheap. The e-Tron SUV starts north of €73,000, while the GT has a lowest list price of €102,000.

Those of us eating further down the motoring food chain can take some heart, though. The arrival of the much more affordable Q4 e-Tron electric SUV is imminent, and now Audi is spreading its electric e-Tron tech out to more conventional models, starting with an all-electric new-generation A6.

The A6 e-Tron is, for the moment, a concept car and will be shown for the first time at the Shanghai motor show later this month (yes, there really is a motor show happening this year!).

The A6 e-Tron rides on a new electric car platform developed by Audi, called the PPE - for Premium Platform Electric - which Audi says will be flexible enough for models as small as an A3 and as large as an A8. The new platform has been co-developed with Porsche, and Audi is claiming a range of more than 700km for the versions with the largest batteries.

With charging of 270kW, Audi claims you can add 300km of range in just ten minutes of charging (assuming you can find a rapid charger with a high-enough output). The platform will support both single-motor rear-wheel drive models, and two-motor four-wheel drive ‘quattro’ versions.

The A6 e-Tron Concept is certainly a looker, with a low, lean glasshouse, incredibly small, slim headlights (thanks to some light elements being hidden in the air intake below), and the big, blanked-off grille lifted from the Q4 e-Tron. There are some very neat lighting touches, such as customisable running light shapes and signatures, and indicators that project a flashing green arrow onto the road in front of the car.

At the rear, there’s a big brake light bar, with OLED lighting (which is very efficient, and which lights up faster and brighter than conventional LEDs) along with a red-backlit Audi four-ring badge.

The A6 e-Tron may also get the Sportback moniker when it goes on sale, as instead of a separate boot, there’s a large fastback tailgate. It may be that Audi is looking to phase out production of the A6 Avant estate when this new car arrives, as estate sales shrink around the globe. There’s also an extra ‘frunk’ storage space in the front, at least for single-motor, rear-wheel drive models.

Audi says that the concept is “95 per cent” of the finished production models - certainly, a production car will at the very least need door handles but it remains to be seen if the rear-view door cameras, visible on the concept (and already available as an option on the e-Tron quattro), will be offered. The concept, at least, has an aerodynamic drag rating of 0.22Cd, which makes it incredibly slippery.

Sadly, we’ll have to wait for at least two years before we can get our hands on a road-going version of the A6 e-Tron Concept, but a few months ahead of its arrival will be the new Q6 e-Tron, a mid-sized SUV that will be similar in dimensions to the current Q5, but much roomier inside, and which will feature Audi’s new ‘flat roof’ styling language. It will also use the new PPE platform.

In the meantime, Audi will launch its new Q4 e-Tron crossover, an all-electric model closely related to the Volkswagen ID.4.

Prices will start from €41,465 (inclusive of grants and rebates), and depending on the model and the battery size, one-charge ranges will run from 350km to 520km. Both single-motor rear-wheel drive and two-motor four-wheel drive variants will be available.