Update: ‘Production’ section updated.
Audi is presenting its e-tron concepts quite close to production. The Audi A6 e-tron concept that debuted as Audi’s proposed challenger to the Tesla Model S and Mercedes EQE at Auto Shanghai 2021 in April 2021 is no different.
Take a look at what we know about the Audi E6:
An Autocar report citing Sascha Heyde, Senior Exterior Designer, says approximately 95% of the e-tron concept’s design features would appear on the production electric sedan. Heyde calls the e-tron concept the “next evolutionary step” in Audi’s design philosophy. While designing, the company focused on the car’s length and width, not height, which allowed a long wheelbase with plenty of space for the battery pack.
Our exclusive rendering (above) shows what the design of the commercialized version would look like. Our Audi A6 electric sedan does away with the logo backlighting at the front, but it has shinier Singleframe inserts, and slightly bigger headlights, for improved visibility and enhanced styling. A powerfully contoured, curved blade under the closed-off upper grille (Singleframe) and matching vertical blades on the sides of the air inlets further enhance the styling.
We haven’t kept the ‘e-tron’ inscription on the lower grille in the final design, seeing how other pure electric Audi e-tron models have transitioned to production. The 21-inch 10-spoke trapezoidal-module, dual-tone wheels may seem like a downgrade from the concept’s 22-inch rims, but they should lead to better handling and reduced noise. We have retained the virtual mirror technology. The concept’s impressive drag coefficient value of 0.22 Cd should apply to even the road-ready car, helped by the digital mirrors. The door handles, antenna and front sensors complete the journey to production.
Video Source: YouTube/Audi
The A6 e-tron is styled like a four-door coupe which is descriptive of the A7 e-tron, but Johannes Arneth, the Technical Project Manager of the A6 e-tron has said that the company “really wanted to stress” that this electric car is a member of the A6 family. Besides, the A7 is “independent enough for its own name,” he said in a discussion with Autocar magazine.
A publicly issued Chinese government document ElectricVehicleWeb.com has accessed suggests that China will get the production Audi A6 e-tron concept as the Audi E6L Limousine. In the global market, it should launch simply as the Audi E6. It has revealed the specifications, too, which we have shared in the next section.
The Audi A6 e-tron or Audi E6 will sit on the new PPE platform, which is quite similar to the MEB platform but with specific changes that make it suitable for the larger, upper-class models.
PPE platform models will have a single motor at the rear as standard. As an option, customers will be able to specify them with a second motor at the front (PSM or ASM depending on the model) for performance and all-wheel drive capability. According to the document mentioned above, the Audi E6L will come in three variants, internally called ‘Entry,’ ‘Main I,’ and ‘Main II.’ The Entry variant will accelerate from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 7.6 seconds, and the Main I and Main II variants will be able to accomplish the same in 6.5 seconds and 5.7 seconds, respectively. The top speed will be the same across the range – 209 km/h (130 mph).
The PPE platform models will have shorter dimensions and overhangs compared to the MLB models and still offer greater interior length. The wheelbase should be significantly longer than the Audi A6 L, which is 3,024 mm. It won’t surprise us if Audi pushes the axles far apart to the furthest technically possible distance – 3,080 mm. Plus there’ll be no transmission or centre tunnels obstructing the legroom. Air suspension and rear-axle steering will be available to make the drive comfortable, safe, and dynamic.
The Chinese government document states 550 litres as the boot space of the Audi E6L. However, it mentions a shockingly high drag coefficient of 0.318 Cd, suggesting some specifications of the series-production units may not be accurate. The A6 e-tron concept has a much lower drag coefficient of 0.22 Cd. We expect the Audi E6 to be nearly as aerodynamic even though the document suggests otherwise.
|Aspect\Specification||Audi E6L Entry (Standard Range RWD)||Audi E6L Main I (Long Range RWD)||Audi E6L Main II (Long Range AWD)|
|Battery Pack Capacity||83 kWh||100 kWh||100 kWh|
|Range||550 km||600 km||600 km|
|0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) Acceleration Time||7.6 seconds||6.5 seconds||5.7 seconds|
|Fast-charging Time (5-80% SoC)||Less than 25 minutes||Less than 25 minutes||Less than 25 minutes|
|Drag Coefficient||0.318 Cd||0.318 Cd||0.318 Cd|
|Weight||2,301 kg||2,502 kg||2,502 kg|
The standard range RWD variant and long-range RWD variant will be single-motor models, while the long-range AWD variant will sport two motors. The Chinese government data stating the same weight and range for the long-range RWD and long-range AWD variants suggests that the above specifications could be internal targets, and the final figures could be different. As the long-range AWD variant would be heavier, its range could be relatively lower.
The PPE platform allows Audi to use battery packs with a gross energy content of up to 100 kWh. The A6 e-tron concept has a 100 kWh (gross) battery pack. Officially, the company is targeting a maximum range (WLTP) of more than 700 km (435 miles).
The operating voltage will be double the EV norm – 800 volts. This will allow rapid charging at up to 270 kW. In the concept version, charging up from 5 to 80% at 270 kW takes less than 25 minutes. Just ten minutes of charging gives a range of more than 300 km (186 miles).
On the Audi E6 Avant
As per Autocar, Arneth has “strongly hinted” that the A6 e-tron will have an estate version. Rendering specialist Sugarchow (Instagram user sugardesign_1) has created an illustration of an uber-cool Audi A6 Avant e-tron. It looks athletic, and at the same time, quite poised. The understated elegance of the donor, the A6 e-tron concept, has been playfully merged with the more practical D-pillar of an Avant and the end result is surprisingly more alluring.
The top-end Audi RS 6 Avant e-tron (Audi RS E6) could sport two motors generating around 440 kW (475 kW in boost mode) and 830 Nm. Expect it to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just over three seconds.
Android Automotive infotainment system
Volkswagen Group has confirmed a new Android Automotive OS-based infotainment system for the Audi Q6 e-tron. We don’t see a reason why the sedan (and maybe even the estate derivate) wouldn’t feature the same.
CARIAD, Volkswagen Group’s automotive software company, will develop a new premium software platform 1.2 (E³ 1.2) for Audi and Porsche models. It plans to use the Android Automotive operating system’s AOSP (Android Open Source Project) version, which means that Google Services won’t come factory-installed in the infotainment systems. Moreover, these infotainment systems would have a third-party app store instead of Google’s Play Store.
In 2023, CARIAD will release the premium software stack 1.2 with launches of the electric Porsche Macan and the Audi Q6 e-tron. It will bring a completely new experience to Audi and Porsche vehicles. This platform will feature a new unified infotainment platform based on Android Automotive.Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO, CARIAD (Volkswagen Group New Auto)
An Audi spokeswoman has said that the Audi Ingolstadt factory would start rolling out the Q6 e-tron from 2023, and the “successor to the A6, the E6,” will join later, as per a Der Spiegel report. The Audi Neckarsulm plant will also manufacture the E6, but in the second generation, the report claimed.
Volkswagen Group had confirmed earlier that the production of the Audi E6 will be held in Neckarsulm, Germany:
Neckarsulm (plant) would be electrified, we are preparing the Audi vehicle family E6 and the successor generation.Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Planning Round 70 announcement on 10 December 2021)
Audi will re-equip the Neckarsulm factory to roll out the next generation Audi E6 model family. Currently, the company manufactures the A4, A5 Cabriolet, A6, A7, and A8 and their derivatives at the approximately one million square-metre (10,763,910.4 sq ft) facility. China will get Audi’s all-electric executive sedan from a local factory.
In October 2020, Audi and FAW, its local partner in China, established a new company called Audi FAW New Energy Company for manufacturing EVs in the country. This newly formed joint venture company will build a new vehicle production plant with an annual capacity of more than 150,000 EVs in Changchun, the capital of the Jilin province. Construction will be completed by the end of 2024.
Audi FAW New Energy Company has been allocated three PPE platform-based models for production. The first two of them will be an electric SUV and an electric sedan. The latter should be the E6.
Back to European production sites, Volkswagen Group CEO Dr. Herbert Diess has indicated that in addition to Audi’s Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm plants, Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Dresden may manufacture an Audi electric sedan, though not necessarily the E6. The electric sedan model in question could be a higher-class model.
When Reddit user futuremartian2011 asked Dr. Diess if launching an electric Phaeton and making it at the Transparent Factory is possible, he said that’s the company is working on “premium electric limousines” and watch out for Audi & Bentley announcements. The Transparent Factory once manufactured top-class models like the VW Phaeton and the Bentley Flying Spur.
Audi plans to launch the E6 after the Q6 e-tron, and it may conduct the European launch in 2023. The RS version could break cover the same year, the same way the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT twins debuted together in 2021.
An Audi spokesperson has informed CNET’s Roadshow that the production A6 e-tron will likely debut this year and enter production in 2023. Audi’s press announcements so far have only confirmed that the first Audi PPE platform models will debut successively in the second half of 2022. Below is what one of the key pointers of the A6 e-tron concept announcement in April 2021 read:
Beginning in late 2022, the first production cars in the C- and later also B-segment will be relaunched with PPE technology, including – a first in the market for electric vehicles – both SUVs with a high ground clearance and dynamically styled models with a lower ride height, such as the upcoming Audi A6 e-tron.Audi announcing the A6 e-tron concept
A press release on the Audi China website considers the A6 e-tron concept as a C-class (C-segment) model, which strengthens our speculation that the statement refers to the production A6 e-tron. The two SUVs on the PPE platform would be the Audi Q6 e-tron and the Porsche Macan EV.
With the A6 e-tron more than two years away from launch, Audi is trying to generate new interest in the car in the meantime by showcasing the concept around the world. Unveiling it in Shanghai in April 2021, the company then brought the concept car to Europe, exhibiting the electric sedan in the Audi City Lab showroom at the Milan Design Week (5-10 September 2021).
Nearly 60% sales growth in 2021
Audi’s electric vehicle sales increased sharply in 2021 compared to 2020. Despite the semiconductor shortages and pandemic related operational challenges, the brand managed to sell 81,894 EVs worldwide in 2021, which according to Quattro Daily, is the highest EV sales figure for any brand in 2021. This accounts for a 57.5% year-on-year growth driven by Audi EVs like the e-tron SUV, new Q4 e-tron and even the RS e-tron and its GT variant. From 3 EVs in 2020 to 7 in 2021, Audi has doubled its EV portfolio and from 2026 onwards, the brand will only make EVs.
‘Engined’ Audi A6 to continue for another generation
Audi’s main markets like Western European countries, the USA, Canada, and China look ready for a complete shift to pure electric powertrains in luxury vehicles by 2030. However, Audi has other important markets that significantly contribute to sales but don’t possess the same spirit for decarbonisation.
Petrostates like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others continue showing great potential for ICE models for longer than the markets mentioned above. The same goes for countries with insufficient EV charging infrastructure or low purchasing power, which decelerate the shift to EVs. A report from auto motor und sport says that for regions that are behind the curve, Audi may continue the internal combustion engine A6 till 2032. The company may see launching the next-gen A6 in pure electric and MHEV/PHEV variants on two separate platforms as a viable solution.
Volkswagen Group’s PPE platform would deliver 7 million electric vehicles by 2030, and a sizable chunk of those sales may come from high-volume models like the Audi E6, Audi Q6, Audi E4, and the Audi E3.
Audi A6 e-tron (Audi E6) FAQs
What is the Audi A6 e-tron release date?
Audi A6 e-tron debuts in 2023. It will be sold in China (in a long wheelbase spec) and Europe.
Which models will be the Audi E6 rivals?
What will be the Audi A6 e-tron price?
The Audi A6 e-tron prices could start around EUR 50,000.
Featured image: Render of the Audi E6 Avant by SugarDesign