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Audi touts second EV, ultra-low battery costs

Audi e-tron Sportback

New EV Sportback model confirmed, as Audi R&D head talks of €100 per kWh batteries

Audi has confirmed that production of its second electric offering, the Audi e-tron Sportback, will begin at its Brussels plant in 2019.

The same plant will produce the Audi e-tron Quattro SUV, slated for production in 2018.

Speculation around the vehicle has been proved largely correct. The e-tron Sportback concept design study was first unveiled by Audi during Auto Shanghai 2017, and the company seems to have stuck with the specifications stated then.

The EV will be a four-door gran turismo with a 320-kW electric drive. The concept study suggested a 95kWh battery pack, offering a range of about 310 miles. As with the e-tron Quattro however, full pricing and details are not due until later in the year.

“With the decision on the Audi e-tron Sportback, we are showing that Audi takes the issue of electric mobility seriously. A second battery-electric model will lead to optimal capacity utilization at our plant in Brussels,” said Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, Member of the Board of Management for Production and Logistics at AUDI AG in a statement.

With two models confirmed and a third tipped for production by 2020, Audi also has its eye on battery economics. According to a recent interview with German magazine auto motor und sport R&D Technical Development head Dr Peter Mertens noted that: “We opted for a top-down strategy, because most buyers will be found there today in this segment. Currently, a kilowatt hour costs about 100 euros ($112 USD) depending on the model… Only when we come well below that price, will E-mobility in volume segments be interesting.”

Certainly Mertens is right – the start-line for ICE-competitive battery costs is around US$100 per kWh, and ideally lower. However, exactly how far away that target is remains a key point of contention. For reference – a McKinsey report released at the start of the year expects battery costs to fall below US$190 per kWh by the end of the decade, and potentially below US$100 per kWh by 2030.

For Audi to have reached the 100-euro (US$113) per kWh point already would seem a very outlandish claim. Mertens is almost certainly talking about the cost per cell – likely supplied by Audi partners LG Chem or Samsung SDI – suggesting the final battery pack cost is considerably higher.

 

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