Earlier this month when Audi unveiled its all-electric SUV, the quattro, some media were quick to dub it a “Tesla killer”, but now that Tesla officially launched its own SUV, I think it’s clear that it was a premature assessment. The quattro is set to have a similar range as the Model X, ~250 EPA-rated miles, but Audi is aiming at releasing the quattro in 2018, while Tesla delivered the first few units yesterday and already has between 25,000 and 30,000 reservations for the all-electric SUV.

Audi boasted the quattro concept as the most aerodynamic SUV ever made, but that didn’t last long. Tesla announced that the Model X achieved a 0.24 drag coefficient, outperforming the quattro’s 0.25 just a few weeks after its prototype unveiling.

Tesla claims a drag coefficient 20% lower than the next best. Of course good aerodynamic performance increases efficiency and helps achieve a longer range. Audi announced the projected range of the quattro to be about 300 miles. Presumably that’s what prompt some media to call it a “Tesla killer” because at face value it is a better range than the Model X’s ~250 miles on a 90 kWh battery pack.

But what those same media failed to acknowledge is that Audi being based in Europe, its advertised range is based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which is notoriously less restrictive than the EPA standard and most often than not doesn’t represent practical range in average conditions.

For example, Tesla’s Model S 85D gets 270 EPA-rated miles, but 330 NED-rated miles. The Model X 90D (90 kWh battery pack) should therefore get a similar range as the quattro AWD with a 95 kWh battery pack. In part thanks to its better aerodynamic performance.

I think it was and still is extremely premature to call the quattro a “Tesla killer”, but nevertheless we will follow the developments around the concept and Audi’s other “e-tron” projects, especially in the light of the recent VW-Audi emission scandal. The company could potentially accelerate its electric vehicle effort to compensate for its diesel business being under pressure.

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