While everybody was talking about the Tesla Model S in 2013, 2014 is supposed to be the year of the Tesla Model X SUV. But Tesla may see its thunder stolen by the Audi Q8 e-tron, a planned all-electric SUV with a sporty flair and a real-world driving range of some 370 miles. Just don’t expect to see this wunder-SUV before 2017.
That gives Elon Musk a full three-year head start to get the Tesla Model X out of the factory and into customers hands, but don’t expect Audi to just roll over. Tesla has taken a bite out of luxury car sales in some key markets, while proving both the viability and desirability of electric cars. So how can Audi compete?
The formula is surprisingly simple. According to AutoCar’s report, the planned Audi Q8 e-tron could borrow the 376 horsepower electric drivetrain of the upcoming Audi R8 e-tron supercar. The Audi R8 e-tron, if you recall, was cancelled before being saved by new battery technology that doubled the range to more than 250 miles. The more-practical Audi Q8 e-tron, meanwhile, could see up to 370 miles of driving range, if AutoCar is to be believed. As far as what it will look like, I imagine Audi designers will borrow from, though the recently-revealed Audi Allroad might be a good start.
Like the R8, the Q8 will see the electric motors powering the rear wheels, and the battery pack should be at least 80 kWh if not larger to deliver the kind of range talked about here. By 2017, battery technology will be even further refined, and that kind of range should be totally doable. Tesla may have to keep a closer eye on Audi.
Then again, the Tesla Model X will have a huge head start in the electric luxury SUV market, and by the time the Audi Q8 e-tron rolls out, most people should be talking about the Tesla Model E, which is also slated for a 2017 debut.
Elon Musk seems to have ruffled some feathers over at Audi though, and ze Germans have built a reputation for biding their time.