Update: ‘U.S. production’ sub-section of ‘Manufacturing’ included.
Audi CEO Markus Duesmann revealed at the company’s Annual Press Conference 2021 in March 2021 that future models for the four-ringed brand include an Audi Q6 e-tron. Take a look at what we know so far about 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 ID.6 SUV from the mainstream sister brand Volkswagen.
Spy pictures suggest that the Audi Q6 e-tron will be curvier than the e-tron SUV, which may make it look a wee bit softer. They 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.
The Q6 e-tron would feature 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, a classic SUV-syle straight beltline, and LED rear lights connected by a narrow light strip.
A spy shot from carscoops.com has revealed an interesting design detail. The Q6 e-tron, unlike the present global Audi SUV models, features split headlamps. It is bifurcated into a wedge-shaped upper part and a separately positioned rectangular lower part. These could be Digital Matrix LED headlights that even allow projecting symbols on the road. A large enclosed Singleframe grille in silver sits between the headlights, and right below is a functional air intake, which could be for cooling the drivetrain, battery, and brakes. We also see that there’s no frunk in the Q6 e-tron.
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.
Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron
Road-testing of the coupe version has started, as seen in spy pictures Motor1 released on July 12, 2022. The Q6 Sportback would have a softer roof that drops into steeply 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 by 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 this year.
On March 26, 2022, InsideEVs published spy pictures of the RS Q6 e-tron in testing. The prototype spotted appeared to have a more aggressive lower front fascia with air intakes reminiscent of current RS models. Another sign of the prototype being an RS model was it featured red brake calipers. With regenerative braking also available, the RS Q6 e-tron may not need to rely as much on mechanical brakes as ICE RS models, hence the smaller rotors.
Video Source: youtube.com/Audi Japan
The next-gen Porsche Macan and the Audi Q6 e-tron 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, A6 e-tron Avant and the next-gen Porsche Cayenne.
The Q6 e-tron could feature a five-link axle in the front and a multi-link axle in the rear. An air suspension with adaptive dampers could be available as an option in the standard Q6, but in the RS variant, it could be a standard feature.
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. The Q6 e-tron will likely support the maximum supported DC charging power its platform allows (270 kW).
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 can achieve a range of 630 km (391 miles)* with a 111.5 kWh (gross) battery pack and 426 km (265 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.
An interior spy shot from Motor1 has revealed that the Q6 e-tron will feature a large floating touchscreen infotainment system that looks visibly different from that of other recent Audi EVs like the Q4 e-tron and Q5 e-tron. Free-standing central displays are the latest trend, and many automakers are switching to this format from dashboard-integrated panels across their line-up. The Q6 e-tron’s tablet-style central display is not that different from the layout hinted by the A6 e-tron’s sketches and appears to be a next-gen Audi design feature.
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.
On September 26, 2022, citing a person familiar with developments at Audi, Autocar reported that the Q6 e-tron will be approximately the size of the Q5. However, thanks to its space-efficient dedicated EV platform, it will offer interior and cargo space similar to the Q7.
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.
On June 7, 2022, Handelsblatt reported that CARIAD is running late with the development of various programs. Moreover, these programs are not compatible with each other and their quality is not up to the expected standards.
During Volkswagen Group’s Q1 2022 investor and analyst conference call in May 2022 (listen on YouTube), former CEO Dr. Herbert Diess had said that E3 1.2 is “hugely complex,” more than E3 1.1 was. He said that E3 1.2 will continue to be a challenge in the next months. However, earlier during the call, he also said that Volkswagen Group is confident about conducting the launch of EVs with E3 1.2 “as planned” in 2023.
It’s (E3 1.2 is) more complex than 1.1 was, far more complex, but I can tell you that the teams are really focused on the launches and we are confident that we can launch the cars as planned next years.Dr. Herbert Diess, former CEO, Volkswagen Group (Investor and Analyst Conference Call Q1 2022 on May 4, 2022)
Steering wheel & audio system
The Q6 e-tron should feature the company’s new generation steering wheel that has a 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%.
Nuremberg & Zurich pilot programs
The first Audi charging hub opened at the Nuremberg Exhibition Center in Germany in December 2021. Audi makes the charging hubs with flexible container cubes, and it can get these 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.
At the Audi Annual Media Conference 2022, Duesmann said that the pilot in Nuremberg was a very successful start. Audi has seen more than 2,000 charging sessions since December 2021, and customers are using all the available slots at the site, the CEO said. With this concept, the company is extending the usage of its EV battery packs and also reducing the load on the grid. The company will open its second charging hub in Zurich, with four charging terminals that offer high-power chargers with a maximum power output of 320 kW.
The concept is that we offer quick charging in an area close to the city and the second pilot is to be established in Zurich. We are buffering energy in second-life batteries – used batteries, and this means we don’t pose a lot of burden on the grid and can offer a lot of charging power. In Zurich there will be four terminals for charging without a lounge and up to a maximum 320 kilowatts charging power.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Annual Media Conference 2022 on March 17, 2022)
Plug & Charge
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 1,876 350 kW chargers in 430 locations in Europe.
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.
Global production of the Audi Q6 e-tron will take place at the company’s Ingolstadt plant in Germany. In a works meeting that took place there in July 2022, Audi CFO Jürgen Rittersberger confirmed that pre-series production (pilot production) of the future electric SUV model has already begun.
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.
China will get the Audi Q6 e-tron from a new domestic plant that will be exclusive to EVs. Located in Changchun, this factory will be under the ownership of Audi FAW NEV Company, a new joint venture company established with China’s FAW for domestic EV production.
The groundbreaking ceremony of Audi FAW NEV Company’s Changchun plant took place on June 28, 2022, and construction will be completed by the end of 2024. The annual production capacity of this plant will be 150,000 units. The new joint venture company has locked three EVs for production at the new facility, starting with the Q6 e-tron electric SUV and the A6 L e-tron/Audi E6 L electric sedan.
From late 2024 on, we will locally produce the first models based on the PPE platform, together with our partner FAW. The first to be launched will be three models from the Audi A6 e-tron and Q6 e-tron series.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Annual Media Conference 2022 on March 17, 2022)
Since the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 became law on August 16, 2022, there are new requirements for PHEVs and EVs to be eligible for the federal tax credit. Effective immediately, the final assembly of these models needs to be in North America. Of all the Audi PHEVs and EVs available in the U.S., only the Q5 55 TFSI e meets this requirement. Additionally, from 2023, the critical minerals in the batteries and the components of the batteries will need to be sourced locally.
Audi is considering North American production of its EVs, potentially somewhere in the United States. Oliver Hoffmann, the company’s R&D chief, revealed this development in an interview with Automotive News in October 2022. Hoffmann suggested that the company could decide about expanding EV production to North America in early 2023. Initially, production of the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron could take place alongside the ID.4 at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. Later, a new Audi factory could make larger, PPE-based models like the Q6 e-tron and Q6 Sportback e-tron.
Audi will hold the Q6 e-tron world premiere at the end of 2023, Rittersberger said at the works meeting that took place at the company’s Ingolstadt plant in July 2022. This means that the market launch will most likely take place in early 2024.
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, a report from Automobilwoche.
Audi may adopt the agency model in Germany, the UK, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Poland initially. It could finalize the related negotiations with retail partners this year. 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.
The Q6 e-tron is not merely a ballooned Q4, thanks to technology co-developed with Porsche. Incorporating features like 800V charging, torque-vectoring, air suspension with adaptive dampers, and rear-axle steering, and a 90-100 kWh battery, will give the Q6 e-tron a competitive edge over MEB-based SUVs from Audi, Cupra and Volkswagen, and clear positioning as a performance-focused SUV under the e-tron umbrella.
Audi Q6 e-tron FAQs
What is the Audi Q6 e-tron release date?
The Q6 should reach customers in early 2024 in Europe, and later that year in the U.S.
Which models will the Audi Q6 e-tron compete with?
What will be the Audi Q6 e-tron price?
The Audi Q6 e-tron could start between $70,000-80,000 in the United States.
Featured image: Heartfelt thanks to our supporter and ace photographer Wilco Blok for sharing spy shots of the Q6 e-tron with TopElectricSUV!