Audi is presenting a further variant of an electric vehicle in the form of the Detroit showcar Audi e-tron. The vehicle body has a powerful, wide and muscular stance on the road, and looks extremely compact and puristic not least thanks to the typically short sports car wheelbase of just 2.43 meters (95.67 in) – a whole 22 centimeters (8.66 in) shorter than the R8.
The sweeping line of the front end and the flat curved roof immediately identify the two-seater as an Audi. The sides reveal familiar contours: The way the dynamic line is tailored above the sill and the prominent wheel arches, as is typical for an Audi R, combine the front, side and rear into a monolithic entity and strongly emphasize the typical Audi feature of round wheel arches enclosing the large 19-inch wheels. The highly tapered front end gives the Detroit showcar Audi e-tron distinctly wedge-shaped basic proportions.
1.78 meters (70.08 in) wide, just 3.93 meters (154.72 in) long and 1.22 meters (48.03 in) tall – those are the classic proportions of a sports car. That leaves space ahead of the rear wheels for the 399 kilogram (879.64 lb) battery unit, with converter and power electronics.
The two electric motors, which have their own cooling system, are mounted on the rear axle. This special package, featuring a 40:60 weight distribution, ensures perfect balance, which contributes to the driving dynamics of the Audi e-tron.
The trapeze of the single-frame grille dominates the distinctly wedge-shaped front end and is flanked by two large air intakes. The top of the grille merges into the flat strips of the adaptive matrix beam headlight modules with their clear glass covers. All light units use ultra-efficient LED technology.
The headlights are the core of a fully automatic light assistance system that reacts flexibly to any situation. The new technology recognizes weather conditions and adapts the illumination to rain or fog. The technology at the heart of the light assistance system is a camera that works together with a fast computer to detect oncoming traffic, recognize lanes and measure visibilities, such as in the event of fog.
If there is oncoming traffic, the high beams are turned off in the corresponding section of the illumination field. The cornering light system analyzes data from the navigation system and illuminates corners before the driver steers into them. The Detroit showcar Audi e-tron does not have conventional fog lamps that consume additional power. It intelligently varies the low beams instead; in fog, for example, it produces a wider, more horizontal illumination field, thus significantly reducing the glare from the car’s own lights.
The variability of the headlights is also reflected in their design. The LED elements change appearance and thus the character of the front end of the vehicle depending on the speed driven and the ambient conditions. The innovative lighting technology now offers the Audi designers almost as much design freedom as the shape of the body does.
One design element that is specific to electric vehicles developed by Audi – such as the Audi e-tron – are the air intakes in the single-frame grille and behind the side windows on the C-post. They are closed flush under normal circumstances and opened by retracting slats when additional cooling air is required. The slats above the drive unit then also open to provide a better through-flow of air. These measures, too, maximize efficiency – the concept car is outstanding for an already low drag coefficient that is further improved when the flaps are closed.