When the Audi e-tron first debuted, the catchphrase for the car was “Electric has gone Audi”. For once, a car motto was actually accurate, as the e-tron felt, and still feels, like a normal Audi SUV, rather than an electric one. This is intentional, as Audi wanted the e-tron to feel familiar to its existing customers, so as to make the transition from internal combustion to electric that much easier. However, that method of making EVs should stop with the e-tron.
For the foreseeable future, Audi needs to make its e-tron electric models feel more like exciting new electric cars, cars like Teslas and Lucids. They need to feel like they advance the EV game and move the bar. They shouldn’t just feel like abnormally quite Q7s.
Whenever the Audi e-tron is tested by traditional car enthusiasts, it’s generally well-received because it feels like a good car; nothing more, nothing less. But for EV enthusiasts, the e-tron feels entirely unspectacular. It’s actually sort of a let down.
Forget its middling battery range or lack of Tesla-like acceleration. The Audi e-tron feels unspectacular because simply it’s designed to feel like that way. It’s not designed to make any waves. So the entire cabin of the car looks almost identical to that of a Q8. Which is fine, as it’s a lovely interior, but nothing about it seems like it fits an electric car.
Step inside of a Tesla or even a BMW i3, which is quite old now, and they feel like the future. If Audi wants to attract more than just off-lease Q7 owners that want something a bit different, it’s going to need to be a bit more forward thinking.
Admittedly, cars like the Audi e-tron have their place. There’s certainly a need for electric cars that appeal to non-electric car customers, people who drive normal cars but are curious about electrification. For those customers, the e-tron is perfect, as it offers them the same feel as a traditional car, just with the benefit of an EV powertrain.
However, that can’t be Audi’s only option. EV enthusiasts, which make up a growing community, want something a bit more futuristic, something with more emphasis on its electric powertrain. In a recent video from Engineering Explained, host and Tesla Model 3 owner Jason Fenske, reviewed the Audi e-tron and found it to be a good car. However, he also found it to be a bit boring.
As an EV enthusiast, Fenske wanted more emphasis on its EV nature, such as the ability to one-pedal drive and the ability to choose how much battery charge buffer it uses. Features like that are parts of what EV customers love about their EVs. Like all car enthusiasts, EV fans want to learn, tinker with and interact with their car’s EV tech. So while the e-tron is cool, it’s just too boring for those customers.
There’s a place in the market for both cars; EVs that hide their tech (e-tron) and those that embrace it (Tesla). Audi obviously currently has the former, now it just needs the latter.
Thankfully, it has the chance to create such cars in the near future. There’s the Audi Q4 e-tron on its way, along with a Sportback sibling, as well as the Audi e-tron GT. Both cars have funky looks and futuristic looking cabins. Hopefully, both cars embrace their EV nature with more than just design and actually allow customers to interact more with their technology.