Audi’s electric-mobility chief Stefan Niemand had surprising words of appreciation for Tesla at the recent Technical Congress of Germany’s automotive industry organization (VDA) (via EETimes). Niemand commented:

“I hate to admit it, but Tesla did everything right”

The executive was especially praising Tesla’s EV infrastructure strategy: the Supercharger network. He also made the comment not long after the first Tesla Model X in Europe was spotted near Audi’s headquarters.

The car was spotted near Ingolstadt, where Audi’s headquarters are located. It has an Ingolstadt license plate number, meaning it was registered in the city and Tesla doesn’t have a facility in Ingolstadt.

It wouldn’t be surprising that Audi imported the vehicle to Germany for benchmarking or reverse-engineering, something they already did with the Tesla Model S.

Audi’s first significant entry in the all-electric market will be the e-tron quattro (picture above) in 2018. Considering it will be a long-range all-electric luxury SUV, it is expected to compete with Tesla’s Model X launched last year.

There’s already a little competition between the two vehicles even though there will be about 3 years between their launches. When Audi unveiled the quattro concept, it boasted that the vehicle was the “most aerodynamic SUV ever made”, but that didn’t last long. A few weeks later, Tesla unveiled the production version of the Model X, which achieved a 0.24 drag coefficient, and outperformed the quattro’s 0.25.

Nonetheless, Audi is serious about bringing the quattro to market and it is investing in building the SUV in “large series production” at the company’s plant in Brussels.

Audi expects the e-tron quattro to have a “range of more than 500 kilometers (310 miles)” on a 95 kWh battery pack. It’s important to consider that Audi is based in Germany, meaning that they mostly based their range on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which is known to be less restrictive than the EPA standard. For example, Tesla’s Model S 85D was getting 270 EPA-rated miles in the US, but 330 NEDC-rated miles in Europe.

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