It has been a bumper few days for new electric vehicle reveals. Traditionally the time of the New York International Auto Show, last week saw new battery EVs from Audi, Mazda, and Mercedes-EQ. This coming week, the Shanghai Auto Show will take place in corporeal form, and Audi has brought along something special. It’s called the A6 e-tron concept, but don’t let the “concept” bit fool you; when the actual A6 e-tron arrives in late 2022, it’ll look a lot like the car you see in the gallery above.
A new EV platform
Audi and its corporate siblings within Volkswagen Group have made efficient use of highly flexible vehicle architectures, where a common set of components is used to create a wide range of different vehicles. When dieselgate forced VW Group to abandon that fuel in favor of electrification as a way to meet tough European climate regulations, it put Audi in charge of developing a replacement for the MLB Evo architecture that Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini have used to make cars and SUVs.
The new platform is called PPE—Premium Platform Electric—and the new A6 e-tron will be one of the first BEVs to make use of it. (This is in addition to the new MEB architecture for smaller BEVs built in much greater volume.) In fact, the A6 e-tron won’t be the first PPE-derived BEVs to reach market; late 2022 should see the arrival of an electric replacement for the Porsche Macan crossover, as well as a new Audi Q6 SUV, but we don’t have any more details to share about those two at this time.
Like the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT (both of which use a platform called J1), the A6 e-tron uses an 800 V electrical architecture that allows it to DC fast charge at up to 270 kW. And we’re told it should have at least 435 miles (700 km) of range when tested under Europe’s WLTP schema, courtesy of a 100 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Audi told Ars that this pack is smaller and better packaged than the one in the e-tron SUV, enabling sedan body styles like the A6 concept without compromising interior space.
PPE is designed to allow for single-motor (rear-wheel drive) powertrains as well as dual-motor (all-wheel drive) layouts. The A6 e-tron concept uses the latter, with a combined output of 350 kW (469 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft).
Why isn’t it called the A7 e-tron?
In Audi’s current nomenclature, an A6 is a regular sedan, and an A7 is the fastback derivative, which sacrifices a little rear headroom for a lot of style. This concept is quite obviously a fastback, which makes total sense, as the sloping rear hatch and cut-off tail result in lower drag—in this case a highly respectable drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.22. So why did Audi call it an A6 e-tron and not an A7 Sportback e-tron?
“The A6 model line has a legacy starting with the Audi 100, and the A7 is a derivative of that,” according to an Audi representative, and so it’s chosen to go with the A6 name to draw a more direct link with the model that helped build the company.
The production version of the A6 e-tron—complete with features missing from this concept, like functional door handles and an actual interior—is scheduled to be unveiled at the end of 2022, with deliveries beginning in early 2023.
Listing image by Audi