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Monday, September 2, 2019

Audi Rolls Out a Less Expensive e-tron Model for EV-Loving Norwegians

  • In Norway, already a leader in adoption of electric cars, Audi is bringing out a lower-cost version of its e-tron EV.
  • The e-tron 50 has a smaller battery pack and less range (186 miles vs. 250 for the current e-tron), but it also costs about $18,000 less.
  • Other European countries can hope to get the more budget-minded e-tron, but so far there are no plans to bring it to the U.S. market.

Audi's popular crossover electric vehicle, the e-tron, is getting a range and price cut in Norway. The current e-tron, known in Europe as the e-tron 55, will be joined by a lower-cost sibling, the e-tron 50, that looks and acts so much the same that only hard-core EV fans will know the difference. Why Norway? Because it leads Europe in the adoption of zer0-emission vehicles, with about 38 percent of new passenger-car registrations in July 2019 being EVs.

As Audi announced earlier this year, the e-tron 50 will have a 71.0-kWh battery pack and a range of up to 186 miles on the European test cycle. Compare that to the 95.0-kWh pack and a range of more than 250 miles in the e-tron 55. The e-tron 50 goes on sale in Norway Monday with a starting cost for the Launch Edition that is the equivalent of about $54,800. The e-tron 55 starts at about $72,720.

Just as not all internal-combustion-engine vehicles need 500 horsepower, not all EVs need to have all the miles. And that's the reason for the introduction of the shorter-range e-tron, Audi Norway director Elin Sinervo told Norwegian news outlet Dinside. The average Norwegian doesn't drive all that many miles a day, she said, and, "combined with the possibilities for fast charging, the Audi e-tron 50 quattro is a car well suited for long-distance travel."

Aside from the battery pack, the differences between the 55 and 50 e-trons are mostly limited to performance. Both e-tron variants have dual motors (one on each axle), but the 55 can zip for zero t0 62 mph in 5.7 seconds, Audi claims, while the 50 needs 7.0 seconds to do the same run. The top speed of the 50 is 118 miles per hour, while it's 124 mph for the 55. With the smaller pack in the 50 comes a lower weight, and Audi says the e-tron 50 has been optimized for shorter driving distances and less power. Most of the luxury features carry over from the 55 model, including the fast-charging battery capability, adaptive air suspension, navigation, and heated front seats.

For buyers who want more features such as adaptive cruise control, a winter package, or a leather and Alcantara interior, the e-tron 50 is available in three trims in Norway: Launch Edition, Advanced Business (about $61,300), and Advanced Sport (about $65,800).

The price for the Launch Edition is conveniently close to that of one of the e-tron's biggest rivals, the Tesla Model 3. The smaller Tesla Model 3 starts at about $40,300 in Norway, but the model with a range estimate comparable to the e-tron 50, the Model 3 Performance, starts at about $54,900.

The e-tron 50 will be offered in other European countries, including the Netherlands and the U.K., at a later date, but it will not be sold in the U.S., according to Audi.



By: Car and Driver

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