DETROIT--Audi drew praise when it showed off its e-tron electric concept car in Frankfurt last year, and just three months later the company has a second e-tron on display at the Detroit auto show. The new concept car differs substantially from the previous e-tron, with smaller dimensions, less overall weight, and a new look. Audi isn't too concerned about confusing people by using the e-tron name for two different cars, as Audi wants e-tron to be its brand for electric cars, much as Quattro is its brand for all-wheel-drive.
Where the earlier car had motors powering all wheels, the new e-tron gets only two motors, each turning one rear wheel. An algorithm decides how much power to send to each wheel depending on sensor input, correcting oversteer and understeer during cornering. Given the electric power train, the power steering uses an electro-mechanical unit.
The two motors driving the wheels, along with the 880-pound lithium ion battery, give the car 204 horsepower and 1,955 pound-feet of torque, getting the e-tron to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. The 45 kilowatt-hour battery also gives the car a range of 155 miles.