Ever since Audi introduced its ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ tagline in 1971, the idea of ‘progress through technology’ has underpinned every element of Audi’s design and engineering – from turbocharged quattro performance, through milestone leaps in fuel efficiency, to advanced technology that has made driving easier and safer.
Audi’s all-electric e-tron models are the boldest evolution of that philosophy to date, offering no-compromise zero-emissions electric driving with all of the thrilling driving experience, cosseting comfort and versatile dependability you expect from an Audi. ‘Vorsprung durch Technik. Now electric’, if you will.
As part of its goal of being a net-zero carbon neutral company by 2050, Audi plans to introduce 30 electrified models to its range over the next five years – roughly 40% of the line-up of cars it sells. This includes 20 all-new all-electric e-tron models that will cover everything from family-friendly SUVs to thrilling performance cars.
But, in order to truly understand the potential for Audi’s long-term e-tron vision, we first need to take a brief step into its past.
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The evolution of e-tron
The e-tron concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show offered the first glimpse of Audi’s intent. The Audi R8-inspired design boasted 154 miles of electric range, but some questioned whether electric would ever deliver sports car thrills. With 309bhp and an astonishing 3319 lb-ft of torque transmitted through all-electric quattro all-wheel drive, the e-tron concept had the answer: 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds.
At the same time, Audi started honing its e-tron knowledge on the track. Ever since Audi dominated rallying in the 1980s with quattro all-wheel drive, motorsport has been a key part of its Vorsprung durch Technik ethos. The crucible of the race track has always been the perfect fast-paced proving ground for rapidly improving road car technology through the white-hot heat of competition, and the idea of ‘racing improving the breed’ seemed the perfect match for e-tron.
Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro prototype became the first electric-hybrid to win the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours with a hat-trick of victories in 2012, 2013 and 2014, while Audi’s title-winning campaigns in the all-electric FIA Formula E single-seater series have helped its engineers develop ever-more efficient electric powertrains that charge and deploy energy faster, while also being lighter and smaller.