As a rule, car company people from one marque don’t talk about rival brands - partly because they don’t want to shine the light anywhere but on themselves, and partly because any comparisons can be a bit unseemly.
But it’s very hard for a premium brand to talk about launching an electric car these days without it being described as a Tesla beater. So much so, that one senior engineer told me recently that there isn’t a premium or aspiring premium car maker that doesn’t have a document headed ‘Project Tesla Beater’ active right now.
So when Audi technical boss Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed yesterday that the Audi E-tron Quattro concept will spawn an all-electric SUV in 2018, the inevitable question came in as to what would differentiate it from what Tesla has been doing already for several years.
Hackenberg is one of the very finest people we work with; fiercely clever but open, and happy to passionately discuss any topic. That said, if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure his answer hit the spot in terms of explaining the five-plus year time lag from Tesla to Audi in launching such an all-electric car.
“For us the big jump is that we are offering such a car,” he said. “Our organisation and our relationship with our customers is totally different to that of Tesla.