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The Future is Yesterday: Audi Q4 e-tron concept review and video

At the Geneva Motor Show, we were not able to clarify with Audi technicians what the cost per kilowatt-hour of the high-voltage Audi Q4 e-tron battery is, how many years it can retain the original capacity, and who the cell supplier is for it. Even about the chemical formula of the cathode did not know – “no data.” But all these are important characteristics of the battery. Meanwhile, this does not mean that the new compact Audi Q4 e-tron electric crossover is not worth talking about.

Jens van Eikels, head of the development of the e-tron model line, repeated several times during a conversation with our group of journalists: “If a person once tried himself at the wheel of an electric car, he would never return to a car with an engine.” Partly Mr. Van Eikels is right, since in January in the same Germany the number of buyers of a full-size Audi e-tron (about 400 cars sold), presented at the end of 2018, turned out to be only 4.5 times less than those who chose his classmate Q7 while the “traditional” car is almost 20 thousand euros cheaper.

On a global scale, of course, there is no sense in comparing sales – the gap is enormous, and there is no need to overestimate such a surge of interest in the Audi e-tron either: the effect of novelty still plays. At the same time, in some places in Europe, charging for electric vehicles is already being dismantled – no one is using it, they are idle, and another electric car sharing has recently been ruined in Paris. However, what is there carsharing, if other experts say that it is unrestrained thirst for “greens” (to be fair, just for voluntary reasons), will lead to the collapse of a couple of automobile companies.

Let’s hope that before the entry into the Audi Q4 e-tron market, scheduled for the second half of 2020, this is definitely not going to happen with VW.

However, a lot of other things won’t happen. For example, it will not be cheaper, but electricity will rise in price in Europe. For example, industrial and low-cost disposal methods for high-voltage batteries will not be offered. For example, the batteries themselves will not fall in price – at least to the level of $ 70 per 1 kWh (now the industry average is 150 USD / 1 kWh). After all, this level is considered “threshold”, allowing “electric trains” to enter into natural price competition with ordinary cars without direct government subsidies for the purchase, preferential taxation and the right to move along the lanes for public transport, which are already packed with “electric trains” in major cities of Norway because of what public transport is in traffic jams.

I wonder how by that time the Audi Q4 e-tron interior will change when it reaches the conveyor? Now it is not a new word in design and ergonomics, but some combination of generally known elements. In some ways, the creators of the interior decoration together with the hardware specialists demonstrated a “modular” approach.

Many elements in the interior were “fixed”: say, a thermomug, “installed” in the driver’s door pocket. The execution of the salon itself was no different – neither in terms of materials (suede paneling, leather, soft plastic on the central panel), nor in design – from those concepts that we saw at world salons five years ago. It is gratifying that at least the front seats with electric drive could move, but they didn’t draw their energy from the onboard electrical network. By the way, the bottom of the concept was tightly covered with sheets of material similar to a smooth hardboard – apparently, the battery itself was not installed on the concept, and, by the way, we didn’t open the hood. As for the “geometric” possibilities on the roads, I would like them not to deteriorate on the conveyor sample: under the apron of the front bumper we fix almost 20 cm on the car in the empty state.

Meanwhile, the cells of the highest-voltage battery, whose blocks are located under the bottom of the Audi Q4 e-tron, have an unknown origin ,. As mentioned by Jens van Eykels told us, they are supplied by “one of the two largest world suppliers of cells”. It turns out that in any case, these cells are from South Korea, since the first place in the production of lithium-ion batteries is now occupied by LG Chem, and the second – by Samsung SDI.

“Enclosure” is made already at the factories of the VW concern, and the Germans give a guarantee “from myself” for the battery for 8 years. It’s hard to say what proportion of the initial capacity of 82 kWh the battery can save after this period. Jens van Eikels got off with the general phrase that it “depends on the intensity of use and the conditions in which the battery will be operated.” The battery itself adds a little more than half a ton to the vehicle’s mass, and according to the WLTP cycle that came to replace the NED.

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