Audi launches electric SUV in Tesla's backyard, with assist from Amazon

Audi is ready to take on the industry leader Tesla with the all-new e-tron

The e-tron is electric, and has two electric motors - one in the front and one in the rear - driving all four wheels.

Audi did not give us net USA horsepower or torque for the two electric motors, which it said would be announced closer to launch. That technology can't come to the US until receiving approval from federal regulators.

Navigation is standard on the e-tron and comes with a special route planner when paired with Audi's Connect Plus subscription service that offers suggested routes with available charging points.

An Audi app provides remote charging and cabin-conditioning control, and Audi also announced a deal with Amazon to have Amazon Home Services provide a home charging installation that can be ordered online.

While it might not generate the excitement of a Tesla unveiling - that company received hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits for its Model 3 within hours of that car's debut - the E-Tron increases the competitive pressure. The production model has already started at the plant in Belgium and sales in the European market will begin in the end of the year. Power in the Audi E-Tron SUV is derived from two asynchronous motors with the help of generous 95 kWh battery pack.

Audi's new e-tron sport-utility is the first of several battery-electrics the brand plans to unleash in the U.S
Audi's new e-tron sport-utility is the first of several battery-electrics the brand plans to unleash in the U.S

The e-tron is the latest in a string of dedicated EVs from European automakers that are taking aim at Tesla and other startups with Tesla-like ambitions. A HoloLens exhibit let you "see" the auto charging and regenerating energy from braking, and a sample fast charging station from Electrify America glowed green.

The Audi e-tron midsize SUV will be provided in the United States in 2019 at a starting cost of $75,795 before a $7,500 tax credit. The E-Tron stands a little wider than Audi's other SUVs. It will be able to tow as much as 4,000 pounds. During far more than 90 percent of all decelerations, the Audi e-tron recovers energy exclusively via its electric motors. Braking can also regenerate energy for the battery. Electrify America plans to have 2,000 chargers installed by mid-June next year. The entry-level version is dubbed as Premium Plus and is priced from $74,800.

Moreover, customers can opt for additional features including Audi's driver assistance package, massage seats, a heads-up display, and power door closers and more for $81,800. Those 999 buyers that spring for the First Edition will get 21-inch wheels, Daytona Gray pearl effect paint, orange brake calipers, Volcano Gray Ash Natural Wood inlays and Night Vision Assistant.

Those interested in e-tron ownership can place a refundable $1,000 deposit with Audi via this website.

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