Audi e-tron Takes On Pikes Peak — Recuperation Tests

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We just recently saw some spy photos of the Audi e-tron prototype rolling around near Pikes Peak. This led us to believe that Audi was either on its way to test the e-tron on the famous mountain pass or it had already finished. Turns out it was the latter, as the four-ringed brand has been testing the e-tron where Walter Röhrl won the world’s most famous hill climb in the Audi Sport Quattro S1 back in 1987. Now, Audi has released its testing results from Pikes Peak, giving us specs and performance metrics.

Most of the testing done for the Audi e-tron at Pikes Peak was for energy recuperation. Like all electric cars, the e-tron uses regenerative braking to recuperate energy back into the battery, giving the car a bit more electric range. On Pikes Peak, Audi learned that each downhill kilometer regenerates and additional kilometer of electric range. That’s incredibly helpful, especially on a twisty mountain pass.

According to Audi, “On its 31 kilometer (19 mi) downhill drive, the electric SUV [Audi e-tron] feeds so much energy back to the battery that it can cover approximately the same distance again”. On a mountain pass or downhill road, this is hugely beneficial. Admittedly, the high altitude (14,000 ft elevation) of Pikes Peak did help with temperatures and air density, but the Audi e-tron does recuperate energy with up 300 Nm of torque (221.3 lb-ft) and 220 kW of electric power. That’s more than 70-percent of the e-tron’s total power output and more than any series production electric car in history.

The Audi e-tron also uses three different forms of energy recuperation; manual coasting, using the shift paddles, automatic coasting using predictive efficiency systems and brake recuperation using a combination of regen braking and the electrohydraulic brakes.

Manual coasting allows the drive to adjust the amount of regenerative braking that occurs when the drive lifts off the throttle. This is typically known as one-pedal driving, as the electric cars can use regen braking to dramatically slow the car down without the driver needing to use the actual brake pedal. With manual coasting, the driver uses wheel-mounted paddles to select from three stages of regen braking. In its lowest setting, the car coasts with no additional drag, so it doesn’t slow down on throttle lift. On the highest setting, it slows dramatically on throttle lift. When using the highest setting, the driver only needs to use the brake pedal in emergency stops, as they can modulate just the throttle pedal to come to a complete stop under normal circumstances.

Automatic coasting recuperation uses the car’s predictive efficiency systems to detect its surroundings, traffic and even Car-to-X information, such as traffic light info, to determine the best use of regen braking. This will even use regen braking, in conjunction with the physical brakes, for emergency stop situations.

So the Audi e-tron will stop itself as efficiently as possible, sending as much energy as possible back into the battery. This will help increase range, as it does on every car, but in a way that allows the driver to control how much is being recuperated.

As far as how the e-tron moves forward, though, Audi has also released some new specs. It uses two electric motors, one at each axle, to produce 265 kW (355 hp) and 413 lb-ft of torque under normal circumstances. However, additional power is available when selecting then “Boost Mode”, which is a sort of launch control. This is done by selecting ‘S’ on the shift level and flooring the throttle pedal. That engages Boost Mode, which is available for eight seconds, and allows the e-tron’s electric motors to produce 300 kW (402 hp) and 489 lb-ft of torque. That will allow the e-tron to get from 0-60 mph in under six seconds, according to Audi, though we suspect it will be quicker than that, in the sub-five second range.

All of this info is just making use more excited about the Audi e-tron. Will it be the fastest electric SUV on the market? No, that’s the Tesla Model X. Will it have the most range? No again. With 248 miles of max range it’s good but not the best. However, it will be the best looking electric SUV, have the best interior and some really cool, useful tech, not just gimmicky doors and silly screen modes like its other competitiors…

We can’t wait for September when the e-tron is finally revealed and we really can’t wait to drive it.