Why the 2023 Audi Q6 e-tron isn’t just an inflated Q4 e-tron [Update]

Update: ‘Audi SQ6 & Audi RS Q6’ section added.

Audi CEO Markus Duessman confirmed at the company’s Annual Press Conference in March 2021 that the Ingolstadt-based carmaker’s next electric SUV, which will debut this year, will be called the Audi Q6 e-tron. The Q6 e-tron will be a more affordable vehicle than its sister model, the Porsche Macan EV, an all-electric vehicle that will break cover around the same time.

Take a look at what has emerged so far on the Audi electric SUV:

Audi Q6 e-tron Design

Various spy media and the closely-based renderings show the Audi Q6 e-tron sporting a closed body-coloured Singleframe grille, a la e-tron GT, flanked by sleek Matrix LED headlamps. Yet another feature of the front would be the large intakes with black trim just above the bumper chin. A faux single frame hides the sensors for driver assistance systems behind it. The Q6 e-tron will also have a raked A-pillar and a sloping roofline.

The Audi Q6 e-tron could feature rims measuring 21-inches in diameter to give it a solid presence. The rear-end will likely look a fair bit like the Q4 e-tron with an OLED light bar running across the entire width of the posterior. Compared to e-tron, the Q6 e-tron might be shorter and thus slightly smaller. Because it sits on the PPE platform, it may not need to be as long as the MLB-evo platform-based e-tron to have the same wheelbase and interior space. Expect short overhangs and the wheels pushed out to the corners, giving the new SUV a sporty stance.

Audi Q6 e-tron Sportback

According to a report by Autocar, the Q6 e-tron will be accompanied by its coupe-like version, the Q6 e-tron Sportback. Compared to the e-tron and e-tron Sportback, both Q6 e-tron and Q6 e-tron Sportback will have smaller dimensions. As expected, the Audi Q6 e-tron Sportback will get a softer roofline with raked D-pillars and a lower ground clearance. This will help it achieve a better drag co-efficient (0.25 Cd or lower) and a longer range by 5-8 miles (WLTP). The sloping roofline, however, will reduce the headroom and boot volume by up to 5%.

Interior

Expect the Audi Q6 e-tron with a cabin similar in aesthetics to the Q4 e-tron. Of course, thanks to a dedicated PPE platform for EVs, there will be more space and extra luxury features on offer, but akin to the smaller sibling, there will be high stress on the use of recycled materials.

Audi Q4 interior
While the edgy design of the Q4 e-tron (pictured) would be the theme, the Q6 would be more luxurious with better tech. Image: Audi

In all likelihood, the squared-off steering wheel with back-lit touch controls will be carried over from the Q4, by which one can control 18 different functions. Another similarity will arise out of the flat floor to free up space for backseat passengers and luggage. Other highlights of the package will include an augmented reality head-up display, customizable virtual cockpit display, premium sound system from Sonos, and an XL-size central touchscreen. The Q6 e-tron could be one of the safest SUVs with collision avoidance assist, full-range adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera.

E3 1.2 Software

In the strategy announcement made on July 13, 2021, Volkswagen Group confirmed that the Audi Q6 e-tron would come with a new software system underlining their infotainment screens. This will be a new infotainment system based on Google’s Android Automotive and will feature its own third-party app store, not the Google Play Store.

CARIAD software
The Audi Q6 e-tron’s software will be developed by CARIAD and is called E2 1.2. Image Source: YouTube/Volkswagen News

German publication mobiFlip spoke to the company after the announcement and found that the new system will look nothing like Android Auto. It will only use the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) version of the Android Automotive OS. This version is license-free and doesn’t use the Play Store, hence the third party app-store.

Specifications

PPE Platform

The Audi Q6 e-tron will be the brand’s first offering based on the PPE architecture that has been co-developed with Porsche. It will share a circa-100 kWh battery pack with the production-spec A6 e-tron (Audi E6) that will go on sale a year after this SUV hits the market. The Audi A6 e-tron showcased in its concept avatar in Shanghai in April 2021 came with a (provisional) range of 435 miles (700 km). This impressive figure is made possible by the low drag coefficient of 0.22 and the high-capacity battery. Meanwhile, the Q6 e-tron could have a slightly shorter range of about 400 miles (644 km) due to its taller body and weight.

The Chinese government has released a document titled ‘Audi FAW New Energy Vehicle Project – Environmental Impact Report’ that details a ‘Q6L e-tron’ and a ‘Q6L e-tron Sportback.’ These unannounced models could be just differently named Q6 e-tron and Q6 Sportback e-tron models for China, with a longer wheelbase.

The key revelation from the document was that the two unannounced SUVs would come with 83 kWh and 100 kWh battery pack options. The 83 kWh battery pack would power a rear-wheel drive variant and the 100 kWh battery pack would find its place in two all-wheel drive variants.

The battery packs should be the same in the global Q6 e-tron models. Audi may sell them in a handful of technical configurations, including single- and dual-motor setups with up to 476 hp (356 kW) & 800 Nm of peak outputs. A sub-5-seconds sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) looks fairly possible on the sportiest Q6 e-tron. The Q6 e-tron should come equipped with premium tech like air suspension, torque vectoring, and all-wheel steering.

Audi PPE platform models teasing the Audi Q6 e-tron
The Audi Q6 e-tron will be based on the upcoming high-spec PPE platform, developed for Audi B-, C- and D-segment electric vehicles. The Q4 e-tron is based on the basic VW MEB. Image: Audi

PPE Architecture feature round-up

  • Up to 475 kW of motor power output
  • WLTP Range of 435+ miles (700+ km)
  • 0.22 Cd value
  • 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) acceleration in under 4 seconds
  • Ultra-fast-charging from 5-80% in below 25 minutes, at up to 270 kW
  • Silicon carbide semiconductors for high efficiency in power electronics
  • 800-volt electrical system that offers fast charging capability
  • 100 kWh battery pack capacity (gross)
  • Oil system for gears and e-motor with electric oil pump and dry-sump lubrication for low friction and higher efficiency
  • E-motor with hairpin winding and direct oil cooling for stator and rotor (high power density/reduction of rare earth)
  • Flat floor interior
  • Tight overhangs
  • 22-inch wheels

Charging

The PPE platform would allow fast charging with 270 kW, providing a range of about 300 km (186 miles) in 10 minutes or fast-charging up to 80% in 20 minutes, and a driving range of up to 600 km. Charging the battery pack from 5 to 80 percent should take less than 30 minutes. The Q6 e-tron should feature Plug & Feature right from launch, allowing customers to conveniently plug it without authenticating with an RFID card or an app. Compare this to the 125-150 kW charging of MEB platform models, and you see the difference.

Audi is preparing a high-power charging network for its electric vehicle range, including the upcoming Q6 e-tron, to give customers a premium ownership experience. This is besides the existing charging networks. These high-power charging stations, called ‘Audi charging hubs,’ offer up to 320 kW of charging output, and the electric vehicle customers of Audi can book their charging spot in advance. Customers can relax or work in a lounge while their EV charges.

Audi SQ6 & Audi RS Q6

As is the tradition with Audi vehicles, a performance-oriented Audi RS Q6 e-tron version is reported to be in the pipeline. By definition, it should come equipped with more powerful and torquier electric motors. To enhance the driving experience, it should also feature a stiffer suspension for sharper handling characteristics, a large battery pack, light wheels with more traction, among other bits. Audi might still upgrade the braking system despite the car’s effective regenerative braking. 

While it’s not to confirm the arrival of the RS Q6 e-tron and its Sportback version, Audi has successfully registered the ‘RS Q6’ trademark at the German Patent and Trademark Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt). The legal department of the German carmaker is in the process of getting the same moniker trademarked at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation). 

As per a report by Auto Express magazine in December 2021, Audi plans to launch the SQ6 variant after the Q6, with the performance-oriented RS version following a year after. The exact details are expected to be available in a few months. 

Release Date & Price

Audi has said that the first PPE model would be unveiled in the second half of this year. Following this, the Audi Q6 e-tron could hit the retail market in the first half of 2023 with prices starting under £60,000, which would make this e-SUV a cheaper and worthy alternative to the Audi e-tron. The new model will lock horns with the Mercedes EQE SUV and the Tesla Model Y.

Source: Youtube/CarSpyMedia

Retail Strategy

With the launch of the Q6 e-tron, Audi could adopt the new agency sales model. According to a report in Automobilwoche, Volkswagen had already started switching to the agency model in 2020, and now, Audi is likely to do the same.

Negotiations with retail partners are yet to be finalized. The new sales model will initially be adopted in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Poland. In an agency sales model, the role of the dealer essentially changes to that of an agent. However, their roles aren’t diminished, and they still receive similar commissions and bonuses as currently.

However, what does change is that the price negotiations are now handled completely by the company and not the dealer. The company also bears inventory costs and other costs of the vehicles placed in the showroom, and the dealer doesn’t have to finance cars in advance.

In 2021, Audi wasn’t making money on the e-tron models. However, speaking to Der Spiegel (via QuattroDaily), Markus Duessman said things could change once the Q6 e-tron launches. Lower battery prices, higher economies of scale, and demand for EVs rising in core markets could bring down the cost of EVs. Currently, the e-tron and e-tron Sportback are already available worldwide. The Q4 e-tron and the Q4 e-tron Sportback, and the e-tron GT have also joined the lineup in most markets.

Production

The new Audi Q6 e-tron would hit the production floors in Ingolstadt, Germany, in 2023. The Q6 e-tron will be the first vehicle from Audi to use second-generation steel coil lubrication Prelube II in the production process, reducing lubricant consumption to protect metal sheets from corrosion. This is perceived as a move in line with Audi’s sustainability efforts in making all of its production facilities carbon-neutral by 2025.

Audi Q6 e-tron FAQs

What is the release date of the Audi Q6 e-tron?

The Audi Q6 e-tron will enter production next year. Customer deliveries should begin in the first half of 2023.

Which are the core competitors to the Q6 e-tron?

The new e-SUV from Audi will be seen rivaling the Mercedes EQE SUV and the Tesla Model Y.

What is the expected price of the Audi Q6 e-tron?

The Audi Q6 e-tron should have a base price of under £60,000, a tad more affordable than the e-tron.

Featured Image Source: Instagram/Wilco Blok