Audi takes on Tesla’s Model Y with entry-priced electric SUV

VW has positioned Audi at the center of its challenge to Tesla by building up its EV lineup.
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| Updated on: 14 Apr 2021, 07:46 PM
The Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron concept are bold statements of intent from Audi in a world fast moving towards electric mobility.
The Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron concept are bold statements of intent from Audi in a world fast moving towards electric mobility.

Audi’s new Q4 e-tron will go head-to-head with Tesla Inc. in the fast-growing market of compact crossover SUVs to help parent Volkswagen AG narrow its electric-car sales gap with the world leader.


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The model Audi will unveil Wednesday evening European time is among a dozen models including VW’s ID.4 and an electric version of the Porsche Macan that should enable the VW group exceed Tesla’s deliveries by 2023, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean said in a recent report. VW has targeted selling roughly 600,000 purely battery-powered cars this year as Europe’s biggest carmaker seeks to gain ground on its California-based rival.

(Also Read: NHTSA opens safety probes against 215,000 Volkswagen and Audi cars)

The Q4 e-tron “is Volkswagen’s first real competitor to Tesla, being a modest-sized SUV which hits the right segment," Dean said. He expects the model to offer more than 300 miles of battery range and sell for about 40,000 pounds ($55,000).

So far this year, Tesla has done well defending its dominance. Demand for the Model Y and Model 3 in China supported strong first-quarter deliveries and has reignited investor optimism about the world’s most-valuable automaker holding its own in an increasingly crowded EV market. Incumbent manufacturers including VW, General Motors Co. and Mercedes-Benz have stepped up plans to churn out EVs while smaller upstarts such as Nio Inc. and XPeng Inc. also vie for tech-savvy customers.

(Also Read: 2021 Audi S5 Sportback first drive review: Performance sedan with panache)

VW has positioned Audi at the center of its challenge to Tesla by building up its EV lineup and tasking it with taking lead on developing software -- an area where Tesla remains well ahead. Audi is also responsible for running an engineering task force called Artemis that’s looking to speed up vehicle development.

The Q4 e-tron models “play a central role in the brand’s electrification strategy by launching in a particularly popular market segment," Hildegard Wortmann, Audi’s sales chief, said in a video message. They represent the entry point of Audi’s electric offerings and “showcase how our brand and our design are moving forward."

VW group’s biggest profit contributor after Porsche unveiled the $121,000 Audi e-tron GT sports car in February as Tesla prepared to amp up the Model S sedan with a fresh performance version. While the e-tron GT shares underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan, the Q4 e-tron is based on VW’s architecture for mass-market electric cars.

The platform, called MEB, stacks up well against Tesla on a number of key aspects, UBS Group AG analysts said in a detailed report last month. MEB underpins the VW brand’s ID.3 and ID.4 models as well as Skoda’s upcoming Enyaq SUV. A separate platform for other upscale Audi and Porsche models, dubbed PPE, will launch next year.

First Published Date: 14 Apr 2021, 07:46 PM IST
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