Update: ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Release Date’ sections updated.
Audi CEO Markus Duesmann revealed at the company’s Annual Press Conference 2021 in March that future models for the four-ringed brand include an Audi Q6 e-tron. Duesmann then disclosed the car’s production location and SOP timeline. The SOP timeline has since changed, and we’ve explained that in the Manufacturing section at the end of the story.
Our Ingolstadt site is in the midst of preparing for the production of all-electric models. Remodeling includes, for instance, a conversion of the old A3 body-in-white into the PPE body-in-white facility. The first all-electric model to roll off the assembly lines from 2022 is the (Audi) Q6 e-tron.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi
Rewinding to February 2019, Porsche announced that the Macan, its best-selling model worldwide, would go all-electric when it moves to its next generation. A ‘cheaper’ Audi alternative with a distinct top hat on its underpinning would be the Audi Q6 e-tron.
Let’s take a glance at what we know so far on this future Audi electric car.
Spy pictures revealed on March 1, 2021, that testing of the Audi Q6 e-tron on public roads has begun. They suggest that it may look like a bigger version of the Audi Q4 e-tron, just like the China-only Q5 e-tron that shares the MEB platform with the China-only ID.6 SUV from the mainstream sister brand Volkswagen.
The Audi Q6 features a modern SUV design with an elegantly dominating front fascia, raked A-pillars, a swiftly sloping roofline, and a hunched rear section. Like the e-tron GT, a faux Singleframe would conceal many of the sensors for driver assistance systems at the front. Other highlights should include wedge-shaped slim Matrix LED headlights, classic SUV-syle straight beltline, and LED rear lights connected by a narrow light strip.
Spy pictures suggest that the Audi Q6 e-tron will be slightly curvier than the e-tron SUV, which may make it look a wee bit softer. Spy shots clearly show a wider quarter glass size on the upcoming model, which means that rear-seat passengers will get a greater sense of space and more natural light.
On the Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron
A report from Autocar claims that the Audi Q6 e-tron family will have a coupe-style version called Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron. These models will have smaller dimensions compared to the Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback, respectively. While the Q6 Sportback version is yet to appear in spy pictures, it would have a softer roof that drops into the raked D-pillars. It would sit lower and will achieve a better drag coefficient value (possibly 0.25 Cd or lower). The better aerodynamics may allow a range longer by 5-8 miles (WLTP).
The coupe-style roofline of the Sportback version would reduce headroom and cargo volume up to 5 percent. In the e-tron’s case, the SUV version offers 39.8 inches of headroom in the front and 38.6 inches of headroom in the rear. The same dimensions of the Sportback version are 38.1 inches and 37.9 inches, respectively. Similarly, while the SUV offers a luggage capacity of 28.5 cubic feet (second-row seats up)/57.0 cubic feet (second-row seats down), the Sportback version offers a luggage space of 27.2 cubic feet (second-row seats up)/54.5 cubic feet (second-row seats down).
According to a publicly issued Chinese government document, FAW-Audi will launch a Q6L e-tron, a Q6L e-tron Sportback, and an E6L Lim (Limousine) in China. We don’t understand the ‘L’ suffix in the names, but traditionally that has meant a long-wheelbase version. Audi offers most of its high-volume SUVs and sedans in China with a lengthened wheelbase. That tradition began with the A6 in 1999, as Chinese customers love the rear seat.
Audi SQ6 & Audi RS Q6
On the performance side, an Audi RS Q6 e-tron is reportedly in the pipeline, and should come exclusively in a configuration packing more powerful and torquier front and rear motors, the largest battery pack, a stiffened suspension, lighter wheels, and grippier tires. With regenerative braking available, Audi might not need to go overboard on friction brakes, but it still may offer a new braking system.
While engineers develop the RS Q6 e-tron (and its Sportback version), Audi’s legal team is gearing up to secure rights to its name across the globe. It has successfully registered the ‘RSQ6’ trademark at the Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (German Patent and Trademark Office). It is in the process of getting the same word registered as a trademark at WIPO.
In December 2021, Auto Express magazine carried a report on the two special variants of the Audi Q6 e-tron, namely Audi SQ6 and Audi RS Q6. The British publication claims that Audi plans to launch an SQ6 soon after the Q6, and the more performance-focused RS variant 12 months later. The Q6 Sportback line may also induct the hotter variants, installed with the same motors and battery pack. As Audi has not offered an RS Q5/Q5 Sportback, it will be the first RS SUV in the segment. Specific details about the variants are expected to be revealed in 2022.
Video Source: youtube.com/Audi Japan
The next-gen Porsche Macan and the Audi Q6 will ride on a new dedicated BEV platform called Premium Platform Electric (PPE) or ‘PPE-Architektur’ in German. Co-developed by Porsche and Audi, the PPE will underpin several future models for the two brands including the A6 e-tron and the next-gen Porsche Cayenne.
Audi says that the PPE is similar to the MEB, but it allows greater performance parameters with higher output. A rear-mounted electric motor is standard, while high-end configurations can get a second electric motor (PSM or ASM) at the front axle for eAWD.
PPE platform underpinning the Audi Q6 e-tron means the model’s availability in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations, with the latter featuring an additional motor mounted at the front. High-performance models could do the 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint in about 4 seconds.
The PPE will borrow the best battery system elements from the MEB (used by the VW ID. series and Q4) and J1 (supports the Porsche Taycan family). It will have a compact design and comprise 12 modules consisting of prismatic cells. The MEB battery system also has 12 modules, but with an option of pouch cells. Commonality with the J1 battery system will include 800 nominal voltage, up to 475 kW of performance output, 270 kW of maximum charging power, and high-tech thermal management.
A technical aspect unique to the PPE battery system is the possibility to achieve a higher energy content of up to 100 kWh (gross). For reference, the MEB and J1 battery systems max out at 82 kWh (gross) and 93 kWh (gross), respectively.
Audi expects the A6 e-tron to achieve a range of more than 700 km (435 miles)* with it, and so, expect the taller Q6 e-tron to be capable of at least 600 km (373 miles)*. The lower-end configurations could have a smaller battery pack that offers around 450 km (280 miles) of range*. The BMW iX that arrives in showrooms later this year can achieve a range of 630 km (391 miles)* with a 111.5 kWh (gross) battery pack and 425 km (264 miles)* with a 76.6 kWh (gross) battery pack.
In China, according to the Chinese government document we mentioned in the Design section, FAW-Audi will offer the Q6L e-tron and Q6L e-tron Sportback with 83 kWh and 100 kWh battery packs. The 83 kWh battery pack will be available in a rear-wheel drive variant, which could have only one motor. The 100 kWh battery pack will be available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive variants. The latter could likely sport motors on each axle. Fast-charging the battery packs from 5 to 80% SoC will take less than 25 minutes.
Interior & Features
Thanks to the dedicated EV platform, the Q6 e-tron will offer a highly spacious cabin. Thus, despite the smaller dimensions, the SUV version could offer interior and cargo space similar to the Audi Q7.
Audi has said that the low-floor PPE platform-based models will offer a greater interior length even with slightly shorter exterior dimensions and overhangs compared to MLB platform cars. The company has confirmed that it is possible to package PPE models with a plethora of high-end features, including torque vectoring, all-wheel steering, and air suspension.
Expect the Audi Q6 e-tron to feature Digital Matrix LED headlights with customizable light signatures, 22-inch wheels, camera-based virtual exterior mirrors, and a wind-cheating silhouette that allows a very low drag coefficient of around 0.25 Cd.
In the cabin, Audi may equip the Q6 e-tron with features like an augmented reality head-up display (AR HUD), high-res, customizable virtual instrument cluster, high-res touchscreen infotainment system with 5G connectivity, USB-C ports, and Audi phone box.
Audi offers current models with both optional features and feature packages. However, beginning with the PPE platform models, the company plans to transition from single option to optional packages. As a result, expect fewer single options for customers to pick from on the Q6 e-tron.
E³ 1.2 software
Volkswagen Group confirmed during the New Auto strategy announcement on July 13, 2021, that the Audi Q6 e-tron will feature a new-generation infotainment system based on Google’s Android Automotive. However, this infotainment system will have a third-party app store, not Google’s Play Store.
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 and the third-party app store, providing you of the access to your favorite entertainment and messaging apps. With 1.2, the first vehicles will be ready to migrate to the all-new Volkswagen Automotive Cloud.Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO, CARIAD (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
A report from mobiFlip, a German publication that spoke to the company after the event, suggests that it does not want this infotainment system to have any visible references to Google. It will use the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) version of the Android Automotive OS, which is license-free but excludes the Play Store. The Porsche Macan electric will also get an infotainment system with Android Automotive OS-based software. However, the interfaces on both systems could look almost entirely different.
Steering wheel & audio system
The Q6 e-tron should feature the company’s new generation steering wheel that has flattened top and bottom. The all-new wheel has touch screens and offers capacitive grip recognition or hands-on detection. Its touch screens carry a high-gloss black-panel look with back-lit function areas, but the screens are virtually invisible when the functions are inactive. The driver can perform 18 different functions from the steering wheel, and that too directly via its touch screens.
Audi collaborated with premium audio product company Sonos for the sound system of the Q4 e-tron. It may use the same partnership to offer a premium aural experience in the Q6 e-tron.
Audi is building a High Power Charging network consisting of Audi charging hubs to support its EV offensive as luxury car owners demand a premium sales and ownership experience. The company is developing special charging stations to woo its EV customers.
Audi EV customers can reserve their charging spot in advance and comfortably relax in a nearby lounge area while their EV charges up. With up to 320 kW of charging output available, it would take a little longer than a coffee break to prepare the Audi electric car for the rest of the trip. The e-tron GT, for example, can accept charging at up to 270 kW, taking roughly 23 minutes to charge the car’s battery from 5 to 80%.
The first Audi charging hub will open on December 23, 2021, at the Nuremberg Exhibition Center in Germany. Audi makes the charging hubs with flexible container cubes, and it can get these cubes assembled and disassembled in a few days. The company employs used and processed lithium-ion batteries to store energy for charging the EVs. These are second-life batteries coming from dismantled development vehicles.
European Q6 e-tron customers will benefit from IONITY’s widespread and ever-expanding EV charging network. IONITY, a joint venture between BMW Group, Ford, Hyundai Motor Group, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen Group, plans to invest around EUR 700 million to open more than 5,000 fast-charging points in Europe by 2025. It will install EV chargers offering DC charging at up to 350 kW in more than 1,000 locations. Currently, IONITY has 1,500+ 350 kW charging points.
Audi now offers a Plug & Charge feature in its EVs, but exclusively on the IONITY network. Customers don’t need to authenticate with an RFID card or an app. The company will likely offer plug & charge feature in the Q6 e-tron right from launch, perhaps even in North America.
The Audi Q6 e-tron will enter production in Ingolstadt, Germany, in 2023. Apparently, the project is running a little behind schedule. On November 12, 2021, Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of Audi, told Donaukurier that the Q6 e-tron will be the Ingolstadt plant’s first EV “from 2023.” This production site “is expected” to only manufacture EVs from 2028, Mosch added.
On December 17, 2021, Mosch told Augsburger Allgemeine that production of EVs at the Audi Ingolstadt plant would start in 2023 with the Q6 e-tron, Der Spiegel reported. Moreover, citing an Audi spokeswoman, Der Spiegel said that this production site will make only EVs from 2028.
The Q6 e-tron will be the first model for Audi to use the second-generation steel coil lubrication Prelube II. While 1 gram of oil is required to be applied over every square meter of sheet metal with the conventional lubrication Prelube I, 0.7 g of oil is required for the same with the new Prelube II, and that’s with almost identical processing parameters. The second-gen oil class complements Audi’s sustainable production measures for making all production facilities carbon-neutral by 2025. It will significantly reduce the lubricant required to protect steel from corrosion and to machine the metal sheets in the press shops of Ingolstadt, where the car will be assembled.
Audi will unveil the Q6 e-tron in the second half of 2022. In the press release detailing the A6 e-tron concept in April 2021, the company said that it plans to unveil its first PPE platform production model in the second half of 2022. Customers should be able to take delivery of the car in the first half of 2023.
The Q6 e-tron will likely be available to purchase directly from Audi in European markets. Volkswagen started switching to the agency model in 2020, and now, Audi plans to adopt this sales model, as per a report from Automobilwoche.
Audi may adopt the agency model in Germany, the UK, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Poland initially. It doesn’t expect to finalize the related negotiations with retail partners before 2022, though. The Q6 e-tron launch could mark the start of the new sales model at Audi.
The role of the dealer changes to a sales agent under the agency sales model. The dealers do have an involvement in the sales process, and they receive the same commission and bonus as in the showroom business, but the company handles the price negotiations. The dealer doesn’t need to finance the vehicles in advance, and the company bears the inventory and the costs associated with showroom vehicles.
Audi isn’t making money on the e-tron models currently, but that could change by the time it launches the Q6 e-tron. Duesmann has told Der Spiegel (via QuattroDaily) that e-tron models will start generating profit in three years. With battery prices reducing year after year, higher economies of scale with more product launches, a rise in EV demand in core markets, and other measures/factors such as incentives, the company could bring down the cost of e-tron models significantly by the middle of the decade. Currently, the e-tron and e-tron Sportback are available worldwide, while the e-tron GT, Q4 e-tron, and Q4 Sportback e-tron have started launching globally.
Audi going EV-only from 2026
In March 2021, Audi said that it plans to introduce around 20 pure electric models by 2025. It plans to invest EUR 10 billion in electromobility and EUR 3 billion in digitalization by 2025 and achieve cumulative sales of 7 million units from PPE platform-based EVs by 2030. Citing Duesmann, a Bloomberg report said in April 2021 that Audi sees EVs occupying half of the global premium car market by 2030.
At the Berlin climate conference on June 22, 2021, Duesmann announced that Audi is accelerating the transition to zero-emission mobility. The company plans to put its final all-new combustion engine model into production in four years. Starting 2026, it will launch only pure electric models.
By 2033, Audi wants to stop manufacturing internal combustion engines. However, in China, a country that is leading EV adoption worldwide and likely to outpace all other major auto markets through the decade, it still sees continued demand for models with combustion engines. So, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of sourcing combustion engines locally there beyond 2033.
Audi Q6 e-tron FAQs
What will be the Audi Q6 e-tron release date?
Following its premiere in the latter half of 2022, European customer deliveries should begin in Q1 2023 (January-March 2023).
Which models will the Audi Q6 e-tron compete with?
What will be the Audi Q6 e-tron price?
The Audi Q6 e-tron’s prices could start between $70,000-80,000 in the USA.
Featured image: Heartfelt thanks to our supporter and ace photographer Wilco Blok for sharing spy shots of the Q6 e-tron with TopElectricSUV!