Audi electric SUV to be called the 'e-tron'

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Audi of America president Scot Keogh with Audi e-tron quattro concept, 2015 Los Angeles auto show

Audi of America president Scot Keogh with Audi e-tron quattro concept, 2015 Los Angeles auto show

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Audi’s electric SUV due in 2018 will simply be known as the “e-tron,” CEO Rupert Stadler has confirmed. His comments signal the end of rumors the vehicle was to feature “Q6” in the name, theorized since it will be an SUV sized between the Q5 and Q7.

The new naming strategy mimics Audi’s introduction of its quattro all-wheel-drive technology with the quattro sports car of 1980. Crucially, it’s in contrast to the strategy of BMW and Mercedes-Benz which have introduced the respective i and EQ sub-brands for their volume electric cars.

“It is comparable to the first Audi quattro, which was known simply as the quattro,” Stadler told Autocar. “In the long term the name e-tron will stand for a pure electric driveline structure.”

Audi introduced the e-tron name in 2009 with an electric concept based on its R8 supercar. Since then, we’ve seen the name appear on the A3 and Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrids as well as the unsuccessful R8 e-tron, officially Audi’s first electric car, which was canceled just a year after its launch.

The arrival of the e-tron SUV, previewed by 2015’s e-tron quattro concept car, will serve as a kind of reboot for Audi’s electric ambitions, which have intensified in the past year due to the success of Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA], the current regulatory environment in key markets (namely China), and of course the diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The e-tron will be followed by at least two more electric cars by 2020. One will likely be a compact based on the MEB platform Volkswagen will use for its production version of the I.D. concept; it could even be a successor to the A2. The other is expected to be a sedan, most likely based on the next-generation A7. These additional electric cars will follow Audi’s standard naming practice, so an electric A7, for example, would be called an A7 e-tron.

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