Audi E-tron concept previews 310-mile electric SUV

The Audi E-tron Quattro concept, to be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in September, previews Audi's work on an all-wheel-drive electric SUV with a 310-mile range, set for production in 2018.

Forward-thinking Audi will give the public a preview of a planned electric SUV at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show in September. The preview, called the E-tron Quattro concept, shows off the research and development going toward a new pure-electric SUV that Audi estimates will have 310 miles of range.

The auto industry in general sees electrification as a necessary step for its future. Tesla has grabbed headlines and public interest with its Model S electric sedan , and has promised to launch an electric SUV called the Model X in September. Audi has begun exploring electrification with various concept cars under its E-tron brand in the past few years, and will soon make available its A3 E-tron plug-in hybrid .

Audi released this sketch of the E-tron Quattro concept ahead of its unveiling at the Frankfurt auto show. Audi

Audi notes that its concept is extremely aerodynamic for an SUV, boasting a 0.25 coefficient of drag. Audi achieved that figure through smoothing the underside and lowering the cabin roof. A design sketch teasing the Frankfurt unveil shows an SUV with an upright grille and a high, strong beltline. The greenhouse, or cabin structure, shows angular windows and a roofline that angles lower toward the rear hatch. Audi describes this look as "coupe-like."

Audi plans on packing the battery between the rear wheels and along the underside of the car, similarly to the Tesla Model S, serving to lower the center of gravity. No information on charge times or standards is available yet.

The concept uses three electric motors, one driving the front wheels and one for each rear wheel. That configuration not only supports all-whee drive, but allows torque vectoring across the rear wheels. As such, the drive system can intelligently apply more torque to the outside rear wheel in a turn, improving handling.

Beyond a mere concept, Audi claims the E-tron Quattro concept shows off work the company is doing toward a production all-electric SUV to be launched in 2018.

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