Enlarge (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)
In the wake of its emissions scandal, Volkswagen Group has been on a mission to reinvent itself. After staking its reputation on diesel, the German automaker has conducted a volte face; electricity is now the future. It’s spending billions on developing new battery electric vehicle platforms, billions building a US network of high-speed chargers, and has committed billions more to lock up battery supplies. And now, finally, the first of these efforts has begun to bear fruit.
Behold, the first—but definitely not the last—battery electric vehicle from VW Group. One that has been designed from the ground up to be powered by electrons: the Audi e-tron. We got our first good look at a flashy launch event in San Francisco this past September, and now we’ve finally had a chance to drive it. After 24 hours on plane after plane, we put the e-tron through its paces on and off the roads. Along the way, we confirmed some of our preconceptions about this new BEV and busted others.
There’s no denying this electric SUV is clever, as is the way it’s been positioned in the market. As with any electric car, it won’t be for everyone. And boy was I wrong about what many of us thought would be the car’s coolest new technology. Here’s what we learned.