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Audi Unveils the New e-tron GT and RS Fully-Electric Performance Sedans

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【Summary】​German automaker Audi unveiled its new, fully-electric e-tron models on Tuesday the GT and RS. Both versions are a stunning examples of the types of battery-powered vehicles the luxury arm of Volkswagen plans to offer in the future as the auto industry heads towards electrification. Audi's new electric sedans are also positioned to become strong competitors to Tesla’s flagship Model S.

Eric Walz    Feb 09, 2021 3:20 PM PT
Audi Unveils the New e-tron GT and RS Fully-Electric Performance Sedans
The Audi e-tron GT.

German automaker Audi unveiled its new, fully-electric e-tron models on Tuesday. Both versions are a stunning examples of the types of battery-powered vehicles the luxury arm of Volkswagen plans to offer in the future as the auto industry heads towards electrification.

The newest e-tron models are the grand turismo (GT) and RS e-tron GT. The latest e-tron versions are based on the Taycan sedan from Audi's sister company Porsche. The new electric sedans are also positioned to become strong competitors to Tesla's flagship Model S, as well as for new electric models like the upcoming Lucid Air sedan from California EV startup Lucid Motors.

"The Audi e-tron GT is the beginning of a new era for Audi. Our aim is to shape the future of electric premium mobility. Love of detail, maximum precision, and design that points the way to the future show how much passion we at Audi put into designing and making vehicles," said Hildegard Wortmann, Board Member for Sales and Marketing, Audi AG.

The Audi e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT are the third and fourth all-electric models added to Audi's U.S. portfolio and helps the automaker move towards its goal of electrifying 30% of its model lineup by 2025. In addition to the e-tron SUV and e-tron Sportback, the Audi Q4 e-tron SUV is expected to join Audi's electric model lineup by the end of the year.

Both new e-tron models are equipped with features Audi calls "launch control" and "overboost". Launch control delivers instantaneous torque when accelerating from a standstill. Overboost delivers an additional boost of torque momentarily for faster acceleration and power. 

Acceleration from 0-60 mph takes 4.1 seconds for the e-tron GT, and 3.3 seconds for the RS.

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All of the e-tron performance versions feature a fully-electric, all-wheel-drive powertrain with dual electric motors. The front motor of the e-tron GT produces 235 horsepower and the rear motor adds another 429 horsepower for a net combined output of 469 horsepower. The overboost feature bumps that up to 522 horsepower when combined with launch control. The RS e-tron GT delivers 637 horsepower. 

Performance is further boosted by the use of permanently excited magnets in both the front and rear rotors for the GT and RS models. The permanently excited synchronous motors provide instant torque from a standstill. 

"With the Audi e-tron GT we are putting the DNA of Audi on the road. The gran turismo (GT) superbly reflects our innovative strength and our pioneering spirit. For us it is already part of a line of icons of the brand, alongside the Audi TT and the Audi R8," said Henrik Wenders, Senior Vice President, Audi Brand, Audi AG.

The e-tron GT lineup also includes a two-speed transmission. The lowest speed delivers rapid acceleration when it is needed, while the second speed is designed for highway cruising.

All Audi e-tron GT models in the U.S. will come with a 93.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, with a unique cooling structure located underneath it. The cooling system draws heat away from the battery pack, allowing Audi engineers to design an aluminum frame around the battery for greater structural rigidity and to better protect passengers in the event of a crash.

Like the Porsche Taycan, the e-tron GT models feature an 800-volt electrical architecture that can charge at a rate of 270 kW using a DC fast-charger. Charging takes  around 22 minutes to reach an 80% charge, which is among the fastest among other EVs currently on the market.

Preliminary range estimates are based on approximation of EPA test cycles for a full charge are 238 miles for the e-tron GT and 232 miles for the RS e-tron GT respectively. Official EPA range estimates not available as of yet.

Three Chamber Air Suspension

The Audi e-tron GT lives up to the brand's seamless blend of luxury and performance. In addition to an all-electric powertrain, the e-tron GTs models feature three-chamber air suspension and all-wheel steering for passenger comfort and more agile handling is various road conditions.

Compared with the previous air suspension setup in the e-tron and e-tron Sportback models, the GT versions offer 60% greater capacity so the driver can dial in more precise settings. The air suspension offers dampening rates between the soft and firm. The settings were tuned by Audi on the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife racetrack.

The air chambers for each wheel can be activated and deactivated individually based on the driving situation. The suspension is managed by a central control unit that Audi calles the electronic chassis platform (ECP).

The RS and GT e-tron models also come with all-wheel steering as standard. The rear tires provide a maximum of 2.8 degrees of steering in the opposite direction as the front wheels for better low-speed agility at speeds up to 30 mph. At speeds above 30 mph, all four wheels turn in the same directions to increase stability.

Audi also included a standard rear differential lock to improve traction and stability and help reduce load change when braking and steering. The controlled rear-axle differential lock is optional on e-tron GT and comes standard in the RS and GT e-tron models.

At the heart of the differential lock system is a multi-plate clutch. The clutch offers various locking ranges from zero to 100%. On slippery road surfaces, the lock opens up to 100%, allowing the e-tron's standard Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) to brake each wheel with greater precision, according to Audi.

Other unique vehicle features are radiator and brake duct air inlets that close when not needed to optimize aerodynamics. When closed, the drag coefficient is as low as 0.24 making the e-tron GT one of the most aerodynamic EVs.

The exterior features futuristic HD Matrix-design headlights that use laser light for greater visibility at night.

The RS e-tron GT models also have a lightweight, high-strength, five-layer carbon fiber reinforced plastic roof, which Audi says is a first for the company.

"For me, progress means creating something new. Something that no one has ever done before in this form. Designing a fully electric vehicle is like this—the entire design process has to be thought through anew," said Marc Lichte, Head of Design, Audi AG.

Inside the e-tron GT and RS, the cockpit displays are all-digital using Audi's 12.3-inch virtual cockpit along with a 10.1-inch MMI touch response center display. Audi's MMI display supports gesture controls, including swipe, pinch, tap just like a smartphone for accessing the vehicle's infotainment and climate controls.

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The Audi e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT models will be built at Audi's Böllinger Höfe plant in Heilbronn, Germany, where the automaker also builds the world-renowned Audi R8 supercar. 

Although the new e-tron version are striking examples of Audi's electrified future and a serious competitor to Tesla's Model S sedan, they will be out of reach for many EV buyers, as is the case with Tesla's Model S Plaid version, which costs $139,990. 

Manufacturer's suggested retail pricing (MSRP) for the 2022 Audi e-tron GT quattro Premium Plus is $99,900. The e-tron GT quattro Prestige version is priced at $107,100 and the top-of-the line RS e-tron GT has an MSRP of $139,900. Audi e-tron GT models however may qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax incentives for additional savings.

The Audi e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT will debut as 2022 models and arrive at U.S. dealerships this summer. Audi said it will share additional details of the specific trim level-specific packages closer to the launch date. 

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