Audi will build at least three electric cars on the modular MEB platform developed by parent company Volkswagen. The three battery-powered models are part of an ongoing, 20-car EV offensive that started with the E-Tron in 2018, and that the firm hopes to complete by 2025.
The MEB platform is the central component of the Volkswagen Group’s tectonic shift towards electrification. The first car built on the architecture is the ID.3, a Golf-sized hatchback that will enter production in Zwickau, Germany, in early November. Audi will begin building the production version of the Q4 E-Tron concept (pictured) unveiled during the 2019 Geneva auto show in the same factory by the end of 2020. The crossover will be positioned as the entry point into its range of electric cars.
Audi exterior designer Wolf Seebers told Autoblog the concept is about 97% production-ready. It will gain regular doorhandles, different mirrors, and it will ship with smaller wheels. For the rest, what you see is what you’ll get when the model begins arriving in showrooms.
While the Q4 is the only MEB-based Audi that has been shown to the public, the company confirmed at least two more are on their way. “We can envision a sportier version [of the Q4] and a sedan,” Markus Jeschke, the project manager for the MEB platform, told Autoblog during a media event.
Using this cutting-edge platform will allow Audi to leverage the benefits of economies of scale. It’s one of the most advanced architectures in the automotive industry, it cost millions to develop, and it was designed with a wide array of tech features in mind from the get-go, including an internet-connected infotainment system, and many electronic driving aids.
Jeschke noted the MEB platform was developed specifically to underpin electric cars — there’s no way to drop a turbo four into a car built on it — so it gives designers a tremendous amount of freedom. Seebers pointed to the Q4 concept’s short overhangs, and noted his colleagues in Audi’s interior design department were able to carve out Q5-like space in a Q3-sized footprint. That’s because the electric motors that power it are more compact than a comparable four-cylinder engine, and the flat, lithium-ion battery pack is sandwiched directly under the passenger compartment.
In Europe, the Q4 E-Tron will come standard with a single, rear-mounted electric motor. Dual-motor all-wheel drive will be available at an extra cost, and Jeschke confirmed Audi plans to offer several battery sizes. The America-bound model’s specifications sheet might look different, but what’s certain is that it will be sold in the United States. Look for additional details — including pricing, range, and performance — to emerge in the weeks leading up to its official introduction.