Audi’s next wave of EVs will include a model that poses a serious threat to the Tesla Model S – the Audi E6. The production version of the Audi A6 e-tron concept from Auto Shanghai 2021, the differently named Audi A6 electric would compete with even the Lucid Air, Mercedes EQE, Nio ET7, and BMW i5. Here’s everything we know about it so far:
So far, the vehicle has only been shown in concept form. It’s possible that the production version may not take the standard Audi A6 e-tron nameplate. Audi may differentiate its PPE-based cars with different nomenclature. TopElectricSUV accessed a publicly issued Chinese government document that suggests that the Audi A6 e-tron will be called the Audi E6L in China. In other markets, it would be called the Audi E6.
Audi E6 Design
Sascha Heyde, the Senior Exterior Designer at Audi AG, stated that approximately 95% of the concept’s design elements would make it to the production model, according to an Autocar report dated July 2021. The designer referred to the Audi E6 as the “next evolutionary step” in Audi’s design journey. Heyde and his team focused on the electric sedan’s width and length and not the height. The approach allowed Audi designers to open up ample space for the battery pack between the axles, thanks to an elongated wheelbase.
At first glance, the proportions of the Audi A6 e-tron are reminiscent of the Audi A6 and A7 range. However, the electric Audi appears far more aerodynamic compared to its gas-powered siblings—it has a drag coefficient of 0.22, competing with the likes of the Mercedes EQE (0.22 Cd) and the Lucid Air (0.20 Cd). The slippery surfaces on the sedan will minimize drag and improve range. Audi says its fine-tuning in the wind tunnel has helped it maintain an organic shape that’s also functional and elegant.
A festival of lights
Audi E6’s Technical Project Manager Johannes Arneth stated that the brand “really wanted to stress” EV’s coherence to the A6 family. He added that the A7 was “independent enough for its own name,” as per the Autocar magazine report. Moreover, Audi has said that the vehicle would have a high ground clearance and low ride height, a characteristic of the PPE. However, the most exciting aspect of the EV is its lighting. It’s a festival of lights on wheels.
The front gets Audi’s sleekest ever LED headlamp units with Digital LEDs. Drivers can customize the shape of the DRL to what shape suits them the best. The taillamps are a new generation of OLED strips that act as a display. There are unlimited, customizable variations of digital light signatures and dynamic lighting display that one can toggle between to make the car look unique. We don’t know if this feature will make it to the production model.
The vehicle can project signs on the road to alert pedestrians and other road users. The turn indicators, for instance, not only flash individually but are also projected onto the road.
Video Source: YouTube.com/Audi
Spy pictures of the production A6 e-tron/E6 (view on Auto Express) suggest that it may feature changes at the front like SUV-style split headlamps, larger lower air intake, and new side air inlets. On the sides, Audi will likely use normal mirrors instead of virtual mirrors. At the back, the first test mule spotted probably didn’t give the real picture of the final tail lamp design, which we expect to be close to the concept.
Audi E6 specifications
Based on the PPE platform
The Audi E6 will be based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) jointly developed with Porsche. While the platform offers rear-wheel-drive capability as standard, customers will be able to choose an AWD option, thanks to a second motor on the front axle (PSM or ASM depending on the model) for improved grip and performance. The concept’s two electric motors can deliver a combined output of 470 hp and 800 Nm.
Audi expects the entry-level configuration of the production version to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in less than seven seconds. For the top-of-the-line, high-performance variant, presumably the RS E6, the company is targeting a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time of under four seconds.
The above-mentioned Chinese government document suggests three variants internally called Entry, Main I, and Main II. The Entry variant would be able to sprint from 0-62 mph in 7.6 seconds, while the other two would be able to do the same in 6.5 and 5.7 seconds, respectively. The top speed would be electronically limited to 130 mph on all models. The Audi A6 e-tron concept measures 195.2 inches long, 77.1 inches wide, and 56.7 inches tall, which is in the same ballpark as the A6/A7. Its wheelbase might be between 117 and 121.2 inches long.
The PPE is highly scalable, making it suitable for different vehicle segments. Even though shorter than the MLB platform, it will allow improved interior space because of short overhangs and an elongated wheelbase. Expect the Audi E6 wheelbase to be longer than the A6L’s 119-inch distance between the axles. Moreover, with no transmission tunnel, legroom would be superior. The Audi E6 may also come with adaptive air suspension and rear-axle steering.
A possible flaw in the Chinese government document was the unusually high 0.318 Cd for the E6L. Audi has released a figure of 0.22 for the concept, and we expect the production model to be nearly as aerodynamic. Additionally, the boot space of the electric Audi was rated at 550 liters as per the Chinese data.
|Aspect\Specification||Audi E6L Entry (Standard Range RWD)||Audi E6L Main I (Long Range RWD)||Audi E6L Main II (Long Range AWD)|
|Battery Pack Capacity||83 kWh||100 kWh||100 kWh|
|Range||341.7 miles (550 km)||372.8 miles (600 km)||372.8 miles (600 km)|
|0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) Acceleration Time||7.6 seconds||6.5 seconds||5.7 seconds|
|Fast-charging Time (5-80% SoC)||Less than 25 minutes||Less than 25 minutes||Less than 25 minutes|
|Drag Coefficient||0.318 Cd||0.318 Cd||0.318 Cd|
|Weight||2,301 kg||2,502 kg||2,502 kg|
As you can see above, the weights of the long-range RWD variant (single motor) and the long-range AWD (dual motors) version are the same. The final specifications could be different as an AWD set-up naturally increases weight. The above-mentioned figures could be internal targets. The AWD variant would pack more horsepower, but its range would be less, while the RWD would maximize range with less (but largely adequate) horsepower.
Audi says the A6 e-tron concept’s battery pack has an energy storage capacity of around 100 kWh, enough to provide a WLTP range of more than 700 km (435 miles). The operating voltage is 800 volts, enabling blazing fast charging speeds of up to 270 kW. The concept can charge from 5 to 80% in less than 25 minutes. Ten minutes of plugging into a DC charger can add more than 300 km (186 miles) worth of charge.
Android Automotive infotainment system
The VW Group has confirmed an Android Automotive Operation System-based infotainment for the Audi Q6 e-tron, and the same would be expected to feature on Audi E6. The VW Group’s software division, CARIAD, is developing a new premium software platform 1.2 (E³ 1.2), for upcoming Audi and Porsche models. The brand plans to use Android Automotive OS’ Android Open Source Project (AOSP) version, which will not include Google Services as standard. They may even have a third-party app store instead of the Google Play store that all of us are used to.
In 2023, CARIAD will release the premium software stack 1.2 with launches of the electric Porsche Macan and the Audi Q6 e-tron. It will bring a completely new experience to Audi and Porsche vehicles. This platform will feature a new unified infotainment platform based on Android Automotive.Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO, CARIAD (Volkswagen Group New Auto)
Play video games while charging
The Audi A6 e-tron concept can also be entertaining. The concept comes with Digital Matrix headlamps. When the vehicle is parked in front of a plain wall during charging, the owners can project a video game onto the wall and keep themselves entertained, thanks to the Digital Matrix lamps. The video game is developed in-house by Audi specifically for this concept.
Citing an Audi spokeswoman, Der Spiegel reported in December 2021 that Audi’s Ingolstadt factory would begin manufacturing the Audi Q6 e-tron from 2023, and the “successor to the A6, the E6,” will join later. The report adds that the Audi Neckarsulm plant will also manufacture the E6, although in the second generation.
Volkswagen Group had confirmed earlier that the production of the Audi E6 will be held in Neckarsulm, Germany:
Neckarsulm (plant) would be electrified, we are preparing the Audi vehicle family E6 and the successor generation.Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Planning Round 70 announcement on 10 December 2021)
Chinese model will be made locally
Audi presently manufactures the A4, A5 Cabriolet, A6, A7, A8, and their alternative body styles and variants at its nearly 1 million square meter facility in Neckarsulm. While the Chinese model will roll out from a local factory, the international models will roll out of the Neckarsulm plant after modifications are made for the Audi E6 production. Moreover, Volkswagen Group CEO Dr. Herbert Diess indicated that an Audi electric sedan might be manufactured at Volkswagen’s transparent factory in Dresden, but it may not be the E6.
FAW, Volkswagen Group’s local partner in China, has established a new entity called Audi FAW New Energy Company for manufacturing EVs in the country. The joint venture is presently working on developing a new construction base with over 150,000 units of annual manufacturing capacity in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province. Operations are expected to begin here by the end of 2024. The PPE-based Audi EVs will be made here; an Audi electric SUV and a sedan, and the third one will be the E6.
Reddit user futuremartian2011 asked Dr. Diess if an electric Phaeton could be manufactured at the Transparent Factory. The CEO responded by saying that the company is working on “premium electric limousines” and asked viewers to watch out for future Audi and Bentley models. The Transparent Factory once manufactured models like the VW Phaeton and the Bentley Flying Spur.
Audi E6 Release Date
Audi plans to launch the E6 after the Q6 e-tron and launch it in Europe in 2023. There are no credible reports or official confirmation about the electric saloon’s arrival in North America. Given the dwindling sales of its gas version (A6) in the U.S., Audi may think the E6 is the solution to regain strength in the segment.
The E6’s RS version could also break cover in 2024, possibly the same way the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT twins debuted together in 2021. However, there’s no confirmation yet.
CNET’s Roadshow reported in July 2021 that the production A6 e-tron will likely debut this year and enter production in 2023, citing an Audi spokesperson. Below is what one of the key pointers of the A6 e-tron concept announcement in April 2021 read:
Beginning in late 2022, the first production cars in the C- and later also B-segment will be relaunched with PPE technology, including – a first in the market for electric vehicles – both SUVs with a high ground clearance and dynamically styled models with a lower ride height, such as the upcoming Audi A6 e-tron.Audi announcing the A6 e-tron concept
A press release on the Audi China website considers the A6 e-tron concept as a C-segment model, strengthening our speculation that the statement refers to the production A6 e-tron. The two SUVs on the PPE platform would be the Audi Q6 e-tron and the Porsche Macan EV.
With the A6 e-tron over a year away from launch, Audi is keeping up the hype. The car was unveiled in Shanghai in April 2021, following which the company brought the concept car to Europe, showcasing it at the Audi City Lab showroom at the Milan Design Week (5-10 September 2021).
Sales in the U.S.
Overall Audi sales in America
Audi ended 2021 on a positive note. Sales of e-tron models in the U.S. were up by 26% compared to 2020, while overall sales were up by 5%. The brand delivered 196,038 units in the U.S. in 2021 (YTD), compared to 186,620 units in 2020. However, performance in Q1 2022 has been somewhat of a contrast. Audi sold 35,505 units in Q1 2022, compared to 54,840 units sold in the same period in 2021—a drop of 35%.
A6: Poor sales drop it to 9th position in Audi family
Audi A6 sales have been declining in the recent past. The A6 was 9th in the list of top-selling Audis in the U.S. during Q1 2022. It was outperformed by almost all other models, including the e-tron SUV. Q1 2022 has been underwhelming, with Audi A6 sales plummeting by 59% compared to Q1 2021. Audi of America sold only 1,274 A6s in the first three months of 2022, compared to 3,113 units sold during the same period last year.
With buyers shifting towards SUVs, only 9,544 A6 models were sold in 2021 in the U.S., compared to 10,535 units sold in 2020—a 9% drop in year-on-year sales. In fact, the gas-powered Audi A6 was the 7th best-selling Audi in the United States, getting outperformed by all the Q range of SUVs (except the e-tron) and also by the more affordable A4 and A5. With such a paradigm shift towards SUVs, Audi won’t be encouraged to launch the E6 in the U.S.
‘Engined’ Audi A6 to continue for another generation
Despite the sales slump for Audi A6 in the U.S., Audi will introduce another generation of the A6 as electrification hasn’t accelerated to a sustainable level in main markets like the USA, Europe, and China. Markets like Russia and the Middle East also show great potential for ICE models. auto motor und sport’s report dated March 23, 2022, states that Audi may continue the gas-powered A6 till 2032. The report adds that launching the all-electric A6 with PHEV and MHEV variants is a viable solution.
Volkswagen Group aims to sell 7 million PPE-based EVs by the end of the decade. A sizable portion of those sales might come from high-volume cars like the upcoming Audi E6, Audi Q6, Audi E4, and the Audi E3.
Audi E6 (Audi A6 e-tron) FAQs
What is the Audi E6 (A6 e-tron) release date?
Audi E6 debuts in 2023. It will be sold in China (in a long-wheelbase spec) and Europe.
Which models will be the Audi E6 rivals?
The Tesla Model S, Lucid Air, BMW i5, Mercedes EQE, and the Nio ET7 will be the Audi E6 rivals.
What will be the Audi E6 price?
The Audi A6 e-tron prices could start around EUR 50,000 (USD 53,000).
Featured Image Source: Audi