The established German luxury carmakers are now taking Tesla Motors quite seriously, and are preparing a crop of electric cars to compete directly with its Model S and Model X.
In 2018, Audi will launch an all-electric SUV based on the e-tron quattro concept unveiled at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show last year. It seems to be aimed squarely at the Tesla Model X. Now it appears Audi may also have a Tesla Model S rival in the works as well.
An all-electric sedan called the A9 e-tron is under development, with plans for a 2020 launch, reports British automotive magazine Autocar.
This model will likely be closely related to the planned electric SUV, and would be positioned above the current A8 sedan as Audi’s flagship.
While Audi has not officially confirmed the A9 e-tron, CEO Rupert Stadler noted in an interview with Autocar that it plans to have three electric models in its lineup by 2020.
The A9 will likely share a platform with the all-electric SUV, which may get the Q6 e-tron name when it goes into production less than two years from now.
It could also share the SUV’s powertrain, which includes three electric motors—one powering the front wheels, and two powering the rear wheels. In the e-tron quattro concept, the two rear motors enable torque vectoring, in which power is shifted side to side to improve handling.
The A9 e-tron will likely also use the same 95-kilowatt-hour battery pack as the e-tron quattro concept, with lithium-ion cells from Korean firms LG Chem and Samsung SDI.
Audi is reportedly aiming for a range of 500 kilometers (310 miles), though that figure likely uses the European NEDC test cycle, with a comparable EPA range estimate being 20 or 30 percent lower.
The A9 e-tron will reportedly be offered with wireless inductive charging, as well as an automated parking feature that allows the car to position itself over the charging plate without any involvement from the driver.
Audi reportedly expects the A9 e-tron to achieve “Level 4” autonomy, meaning it will be capable of driving itself the majority of the time.
That’s another realm in which Audi would compete directly with Tesla. Despite significant criticism in the wake of a fatal crash involving its Autopilot system, Tesla is pushing ahead with plans for fully-autonomous cars.
CEO Elon Musk believes the technology will be available soon, but that getting it approved by regulators may take a bit longer.