Modified Audi e-tron climbed 85-percent gradient ski slope

Even before it was released, Audi has been testing the limits of its e-tron SUV in extreme conditions. First, it was the extreme cold of the Arctic Circle, then it was the extreme heat of the Namibian Desert, then the extreme altitude changes of Pikes Peak. More recently, the Audi e-tron tackled an 85-percent gradient in the snow on the legendary “Streif” ski slope.

On the Streif, there’s a section called the “Mausefalle”, which is an 85-percent gradient, making it the steepest portion. To test the abilities of the Audi e-tron in the snow, the four-ringed brand took one and climbed up the slope.

“We already proved the mettle of the electric SUV last year in a number of Audi e-tron extreme events. From Pikes Peak to the salt plains of Namibia to the high-voltage test bay in Berlin – the Audi e-tron prototype mastered the greatest of challenges,” said Peter Oberndorfer, Head of Product and Technology Communications. “With the sensational drive up the ‘Mausefalle’ we have pushed the boundaries even further and demonstrated all the technical possibilities of Quattro technology in an electric car.”

Admittedly, the e-tron in question was not a stock one. It was packing three electric motors rather than two. Two motors were mounted at the rear axle and one at the front, rather than the production car’s lone motor at each axle. That extra motor out back not only aids in power but also in traction.

With electric cars, torque can be far more accurately put to the ground, as each electric motor operates independently, rather than having one power source (internal combustion engine) sending power to different wheels via a gearbox, driveshafts and differentials. So with three electric motors, Audi can develop a far more accurate, effective and grippy Quattro system than it currently has with a traditional vehicle.

The modified Audi e-tron, with its three electric motors, develops 370 kW (496 hp) and a simply massive total wheel torque of 8,920 Nm (6,579.1 lb-ft). That’s way, way more torque than the standard car, obviously, but it was needed to climb an absurdly steep 85-percent gradient in the snow. It was also wearing specifically-designed 19-inch wheels and studded tires. So it’s not as if a stock e-tron can do such a thing. Still, it’s impressive to see what it can do and it helps Audi learn the capabilities of electric Quattro.

“Conquering an 85 percent gradient sounds impossible at first,” says Mattias Ekström, who was behind the wheel of the Audi e-tron technology demonstrator. “Even I was impressed with the way this car handles such difficult terrain”.

While a stock Audi e-tron can’t do this exactly, it is still very impressive off road. It’s instant torque and extremely efficient distribution of grip helps the big EV Audi handle situations that most SUVs simply can’t.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.