We’re not fanboys here. We like the Audi brand, sure, but we’re never going to make false claims about its superiority and we’re always going to be objective about its cars, it successes and its failures. However, we must admit, Audi has surpassed its two main rivals — BMW and Mercedes-Benz — when it comes to making electric vehicles.
To understand how this happened, we have to rewind back a few years, all the way to 2014. BMW has just launched its i3, an all-electric hatchback with Jetson’s like styling. While its design wasn’t universally loved, it was an exciting car because it offered electric mobility in an interesting and well thought-out package from a major luxury car brand.
Not only that but BMW launched the i8 as well, in 2014. The BMW i8 was, and still is, a remarkably good looking car with a high-tech hybrid powertrain, mid-engine configuration and sports car performance. When it first debuted, it was revolutionary.
What did Mercedes-Benz have at the time? Well, it wasn’t exactly a mass production car but it had the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive, which was, you might have already guessed, an electric SLS AMG. Sure, it was an extremely low-volume car, limited to only 200 European customers, but it got enthusiasts excited about EV performance cars, thanks to its 740 horsepower and dynamite looks.
At the time, what sort of electrified vehicles did Audi have? The Audi A3 e-tron Sportback, a car not known for being revolutionary but for its tepid awfulness. It was slow, lacked any sort of usable range, was too heavy to be fun and to expensive for what it was. There’s a reason it didn’t sell.
Soon after all of that, BMW and Mercedes-Benz would go onto hybridize everything and make grand promises of futuristic EV mobility, all while Audi sat relatively quiet. Admittedly, a massive diesel scandal — which cost the brand enormous amounts of money, time and a CEO — had something to do with that, too.
Still, fast forward to today and Audi has four all-electric vehicles that will be on sale by the end of the year; the Audi e-tron, the e-tron Sportback, the Audi e-tron S and the e-tron S Sportback. There are more on the way, too. The Audi e-tron GT will debut later this year and the Q4 e-tron is on its way. By the end of 2021, Audi could have six all-electric vehicles on sale.
While BMW only just announced its first EV since the i3 back in 2014, the iX3 which honestly seems like an afterthought. It looks exactly like an X3 and only has a single rear electric motor with barely more range than the Audi e-tron, which has two electric motors and weighs far more. The iX3 has a WLTP-rated range of 440 km (273 miles) and the e-tron 55 Quattro has a WLTP-rated range of 436 km (270 miles).
What about Mercedes-Benz? It has the all-new EQC, another electric crossover similar to the iX3. It boast a bit better specs than the Bimmer, thanks to its dual EV motors making 402 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque, but it has less range than both of its rivals. The EQC is only rated at 416 km (259 miles)
While the Audi e-tron also uses dual motors and, during Boost Mode, also makes 402 horsepower and 664 Nm (489 lb-ft). While it’s not as torquey or as fast as the EQC, it has more range. Plus, it’s bigger, more luxurious and still just one of four Audi EVs hitting the market.
Admittedly, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have more EVs in the pipeline and will be rolling new and interesting electric cars in the next couple of years. But so too will Audi, who already has the leg up on both brands. So, as far as we see it, Audi has a complete 180-degree turn on EVs. If this were the NFL Honors, Audi would be named Comeback Player of the Year.