Audi wants to have twenty fully electric models available within six years. At the moment there are two, the e-tron and the Q2L e0-tron available in China. To achieve the target number for 2025, the brand will have to work efficiently.

By building many models on the same platform, so that they are basically the same, new models can be added quickly. How does that work exactly? The more often you can use the same platform, the more you can earn back the development costs of the platform.

A platform is in fact the rolling part of the car, so without bodywork. Think of the chassis, the front and rear axle, the suspension and the steering gear. With an electric car, the platform is often a kind of skateboard, with an axle on either side.

You can mount battery packs of different sizes between the axles. (Image: Audi)

Left or right

You can adapt existing platforms in such a way that an electric power train becomes possible. Still other platforms are designed in such a way that you can use both internal combustion engines and an electric power train.

The platform of the all-electric Audi e-tron is the MLB evo platform. Although this platform was not primarily conceived as a basis for electric cars at the time, they still used it at Audi by simply providing it with a battery pack under the bottom and applying an electric motor in front and behind it.

Other platforms, such as the CMP of the French PSA Group (Citroën, DS, Opel and Peugeot), are basically suitable for both a fuel engine and electric drive. An e-CMP has also been created from the CMP in collaboration with the Chinese partner Dongfeng. Still other brands, including BMW, are developing their platforms in such a way that they are basically suitable for everything from fuel engines and plug-in hybrid drives to fully electric.

At the Volkswagen Group and thus Audi, they bet on platforms specifically for fully electric cars. In addition to the aforementioned MLB evo platform, these are also the J1 Performance Platform, the modular E-antriebs baukasten (MEB) and the Premium Platform Electric (PPE). The latter two will be applied the most.

The entire family of platforms within Audi. (Image: Audi)

Little cooperation at first

Within the Volkswagen group, we initially saw parallel development programs for electric cars. There was no much synergy. As they were working at Audi with their electric SUV that would later become the e-tron, Porsche more or less started their own electric car on the electric car that we now know as the Taycan, for which the J1 platform was developed. is. Audi is hooked up at a later stage and will launch e-tron GT next year based on the same platform.

More synergy between the brands in the group can be found in the MEB and PPE building systems. We know MEB as the modular platform technology developed within the Volkswagen group for cars such as the Volkswagen ID.3. Audi, Skoda and Seat will also use this platform.

PPE is suitable for the larger models and this time is a joint project of Audi and Porsche. The MEB and PPE cars are actually rear-wheel drivers, but by placing a second electric motor between the front wheels, they can be made into relatively simple four-wheel drivers.

The e-tron GT to be launched next year shares its base with the Porsche Taycan. (Photo: Audi)

"EV offers more leeway"

"Both MEB and PPE offer us the freedom to vary in track width, wheelbase and also in ground height. This makes it possible to build a sedan, a low sports coupe as well as a high SUV on the same basis," said MEB project leader Markus Jeschke.

"The first MEB-Audi will be the Q4 e-tron in 2021, an SUV with the outside dimensions of a Q3 but with the inside space of a Q5. That is the space that an EV offers."

The flexible structures also offer room to play with the battery size. Where Volkswagen has announced three battery variants for ID.3, Jeschke says that Audi starts with the two largest ones (58 and 77 kWh).

The advantage of a larger battery is that it is possible to charge with more power because the charge can be distributed more easily over the cells. The Q4 e-tron must therefore be able to charge up to 250 kW with its 400-volt battery pack, while the PPE models can withstand 800 volts up to 350 kW.

Next month Audi will present the e-tron Sportback, a sportier variant of the e-tron known here. As mentioned, it will be the turn of the e-tron GT in 2020, after which the Q4 e-tron will be launched in 2021.

The Q4 e-tron on MEB basis will come in 2021. (Photo: Audi)

The full story was in AutoWeek 42