ANYONE travelling the Hume Highway through country Victoria this week may have caught a sneak peek of Audi’s e-tron prototype which made a surprise appearance almost a year ahead of its due delivery date. The electric SUV was out and about at a petrol station in rural Euroa, north-east of Melbourne, as part of a launch of an ultra-rapid charging station, the first of many set to pop up around the country.
Australian start-up Chargefox says all electric vehicles will be able to make use of its 21 charging stations, enabling motorists to confidently cover the distances between Australia’s major cities.
Chargefox CEO Marty Andrews says his company’s chargers are the fastest available in Australia, with a power output range of 150kW to 350kW. That makes for quick charging time, delivering up to 400km of range in 15 minutes.
“Our network of ultra-rapid charging stations will play a significant part in improving the infrastructure of this country and remove one of the major barriers that limits the adoption of EVs,” Andrews says.
Anyone who has an EV, or is considering buying one, can download the Chargefox App to track down charging stations across Australia and New Zealand. They can also use it to pay charging costs on their mobile phone.
Tests have shown that Audi’s e-tron can cover more than 400km on a single charge thanks to clever use of recuperation technology which kicks in during deceleration or braking.
The dual electric motors are said to deliver immediate and impressive pulling power, accelerating from 0 to 100kmh in 5.7 seconds. Its top speed is probably sensibly limited to 200kmh.
At almost 5m long and just shy of 2m wide, the electric vehicle looks like it will deliver on spaciousness and comfort typical of Audi’s full-size models. Five people will fit inside, and there’s heaps of boot space, too.
I have a few girlfriends who get a kick out of helping their husbands dig their fully-equipped 4WDs out of deep sand during long and arduous treks through the Australian outback. They might find it interesting to hear this car was tested in similar terrain and was apparently up to the task.
The photos at bottom here shows the Audi e-tron prototype in action in southwest Africa testing its quattro electric all-wheel drive capabilities on salt flats in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia.
Audi says the porous, hard surface topped with fine-grained gravel provided the perfect conditions on which to push the SUV through controlled drifts. Its versatile suspension, low centre of gravity and powerful electric motors combined to provide powerful traction, as well as impressive dynamics and stability on varying terrain, according to testers. That should please the girlfriends.
We also like that six-time world champion Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore has been signed on as a global e-tron ambassador. The surfing legend was in San Fransico earlier this month for the SUV’s world premiere. She explains her passion for sustainability and the environment in this short video.
The e-tron is the first fully electrically powered production model from the German brand and one of three all-electric vehicles that Audi will debut by 2020.
And there are many more to come, apparently. Audi Australia’s managing director, Paul Sansom, says the company will produce 20 either full-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles across its entire model range by 2025