Audi upgrades e-tron electric SUV with more range and efficiency

Audi has just unveiled its e-tron Sportback, which is a little more efficient than the e-tron SUV, but now the German automaker has introduced some upgrades to the e-tron electric SUV — giving it more range and efficiency.

When launching the e-tron Sportback last week, Audi credited the improved efficiency mainly to the better aerodynamics.

However, we learned that the automaker actually made some software and hardware improvements to help efficiency and that those improvements could make it to the e-tron SUV.

Today, Audi confirmed it with new upgrades to the e-tron resulting in an extra 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) of WLTP range for both versions of the vehicle (Audi e-tron 50 and 55).

The automaker explains the changes leading to improved efficiency:

Thanks to a new type of wheel brake, the developers have achieved further reductions in what is known as residual brake torque. This refers to losses that occur as a result of the proximity of the brake calipers to the brake discs. The drive system has also become more efficient. In normal driving, the motor on the rear axle provides propulsion as standard. Now, thanks to a number of optimizations, the front electric motor is almost entirely disengaged and disconnected from the electricity supply. Only when the driver requests more power do both motors spring into action. Running without power or drag losses, the major advantage of the asynchronous motor concept, is even more effective as a result. In addition, the usable range of the high-voltage battery has increased.

Audi has been known to be using one of the largest “energy buffers” of any electric automaker.

The Audi e-tron 55 quattro will now be able to drive for up to 436 kilometers (270.9 miles) on a full battery charge.

That’s based on the WLTP standard, which is not as representative to real-world range as the EPA standard. Based on the EPA standard, the Audi e-tron electric SUV gets 204 miles EPA rating.

With this new upgrade, it should get five to 10 more miles on a full charge.

Audi also announced a few other improvements to the e-tron electric SUV:

Highly efficient thermal management

The engineers have also made improvements to cooling. The highly flexible thermal management system, which comprises four separate circuits, has been revised and now regulates the temperature of the high-voltage components even more efficiently. Volume flows in the coolant circuit have been reduced, which means that the pump uses less power. The sophisticated cooling system continues to guarantee rapid DC charging, a long battery life cycle and reproducible performance even under heavy loads. The standard heat pump harnesses waste heat from the high-voltage battery to keep the interior warm. Depending on the outside temperature, that can boost the Audi e-tron’s range by up to 10% in customer operation.

Improved coasting recuperation

The innovative recuperation system contributes to up to 30% of overall range. The Audi e-tron can recover energy in two ways: by means of coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or by means of braking recuperation when the brake pedal is depressed. In both cases, the electric motors function as generators and convert kinetic energy into electrical energy. During deceleration actions of up to 0.3 g — which applies to over 90% of such actions in everyday driving — the high-voltage battery is charged by the electric motors, which act as generators. The recuperation system provides for variable regulation of energy recuperation between both electric motors, both in coasting mode and during braking. The degree of coasting recuperation can be set to any of three stages by means of paddles on the steering wheel, and there are now greater distinctions between the three, which allows the driver the option of a more pronounced “one-pedal feeling.” When braking from 100 km/h (62.1 mph), the Audi e-tron can recuperate up to 300 Nm (221.3 lb-ft) and 220 kW. That corresponds to more than 70% of its operating energy input.

Sporty S line

The S line exterior package emphasizes the sporty DNA of the Audi e-tron. The new equipment version is available now and features 20-inch wheels and sport air suspension. The more distinctively contoured bumper is flanked by bigger and more expressive air curtains, which improve air flow. They extend below the headlights, thereby creating a dynamic appearance even from a distance. An S line emblem adorns the radiator grille, while the illuminated aluminum door sill trims feature an #S logo. The spoiler fitted as standard and a striking diffuser at the rear contribute to the outstanding aerodynamics of the e-tron Sportback. In contrast to the basic model, the attachments on the S line exterior are painted in the exterior body color, including the wheel arch trims, door sills, bumpers, and exterior mirrors. The optional black styling package also accentuates the area of the Singleframe, the side windows, and the bumper. The exterior mirror housings are also available in black as an option.

The automaker only announced the new upgraded models being available to customers in Europe for now.

Electrek’s Take

We really liked the e-tron, but our biggest gripe with it was the fact that it isn’t really efficient compared to other electric SUVs.

That’s a good upgrade, but I think there’s still more room for improvement.

Audi seems to be getting more comfortable with its battery management and ready to reduce its massive energy buffer on top of those other improvements.

I hope we keep seeing more of those improvements.

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