Amidst discussions on electric car battery technology and Tesla’s lead in the EV segment as a whole, Audi has provided some details explaining why its first all-electric SUV, the e-tron 55, only has an EPA-rated range of 204 miles per charge despite its 95 kWh battery. According to the German carmaker, a lot of it has to do with safety.
The information about the e-tron’s battery and range were related to Jalopnik auto journalist Mack Hogan, who remarked on Twitter that Tesla holds a large lead in the EV market due to its vehicles’ superior performance and range. In response to the journalist’s tweet, the German automaker provided explanations about the e-tron’s range.
Audi noted that the e-tron 55’s battery is built to handle serious abuse, and this is a key reason why range had to be sacrificed for the sake of preserving the pack’s long-term durability. This could be seen in the e-tron 55’s cooling system, which individually monitors and cools individual battery pack modules to keep them operating at optimum temperatures. These aggressive and redundant cooling systems ultimately add weight and consume power.
Apart from the e-tron’s cooling systems, the vehicle is also equipped with a robust, well-protected, overbuilt battery pack. Audi does not allow customers to access the e-tron’s full 95 kWh battery, walling 12% of the vehicle’s pack and leaving drivers with a useable 83.6 kWh. This is done for the sake of safety, according to the German carmaker, as fully charging batteries constantly is not really good for the cells’ overall health. Similar to its robust cooling systems, these attributes also affected the SUV’s range.
While Audi’s explanations for the e-tron’s shortcomings in range are reasonable, other factors such as aerodynamics and overall battery chemistry likely work against the German SUV’s favor. This becomes prominent when the e-tron is compared to a competitor such as the 100 kWh Tesla Model X, which is a larger and heavier vehicle overall. Despite having a pack that’s only slightly larger than the e-tron 55’s 95 kWh battery, the Model X Long Range is capable of lasting 325 miles per charge. That’s 38% more range for a battery that’s only 5% bigger.
It is almost certain that the Audi e-tron will not be meeting Tesla’s standards in range anytime soon. Nevertheless, the vehicle still has a lot of potential, especially in European markets where drivers usually travel shorter distances. Last month alone, Audi launched a 71 kWh, shorter-range version of the vehicle, dubbed the e-tron 50, that is priced similarly to the Tesla Model 3 Performance. Speaking to local news outlets, Audi Norway CEO Elin Sinervo stated that the vehicle is a perfect match for the country’s drivers, who only drive an average of 30 km (18.6 miles) per day.