At the Frankfurt Auto Show, Audi pulled the wraps off its all-electric E-tron Quattro Concept – a sleek SUV-thingy sporting stylishly huge wheels, a high beltline, sleek coupe-like greenhouse and the requisite trapezoid grill. All the main lighting functions at the front of the car use Matrix laser technology.

Striking for sure, but what’s under the aluminum skin points to the future of Audi’s electrification. The production model of this vehicle is scheduled for 2018. Audi is calling this concept their key ambassador of electric mobility.

The automaker is jumping into Tesla territory here, claiming a range of 500 km thanks to a 95-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that lives under the floor and between the axles. Audi makes its own batteries in house, and solar cells on the roof will help keep it charged. The Combined Charging System enables charging with either DC or AC electrical currents, and Audi claims a full charge in 50 minutes with an 800V DC charger – something they claim will be more common in the future.

See all our Frankfurt coverage: 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show (IAA)

The Concept was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle and is based on VAG’s second generation MLB architecture. Its motivation comes from a pair of rear axle-mounted motors along with one front axle motor.

It makes 429 hp under normal circumstances, but a boost function ramps that up to 496 hp along with 590 lb-ft of torque. All this juice pushes the E-tron to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds and to an electronically limited top speed of 210 km/h.

An adaptive air suspension system lowers the car at speed to improve aerodynamics, and the E-tron also features rear-wheel steering. Depending on speed and the driving situation, they steer either opposite or in the same direction as the front wheels.

Indeed, the production version of this concept is a few years off, but Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Audi Board of Management for Technical Development says, “The Audi e‑tron quattro concept provides a concrete foretaste of this.”

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