Audi’s Electric E-tron Is Real

Audi Electric E-tron

The gorgeous e-tron electric concept car Audi’s been showing off lately is more than a slick show car. It’s damn-near production ready and could be in showrooms by the end of 2011.

So says Dan Neil, the Pulitzer Prize-winning gearhead who writes for the Los Angeles Times. That lucky SOB spent some quality time with the e-tron and says it is “spectacularly cool and highly-evolved.”

We already knew the e-tron is spectacularly cool because we had to force ourselves not to drool when we saw it at the Los Angeles Auto Show. But Neil says the car, which Audi developed in just nine months, is remarkably refined. The alloy space frame is production-ready, all of the electronics — including the motion-sensing door handles — work and the instrument console is all but finished.

In other words, Audi is on track to have the e-tron rolling off the line within two years.

As for the car’s drivetrain, we already knew it sports four electric motors and a 53 kilowatt/hour lithium-ion battery pack (about 43 kw/hr is used). We also knew it puts down 313 horsepower (70 percent goes to the rear wheels), and we’ve all heard Audi’s inflated claim of 3,319 pound-feet of torque. Neil says the real-world figure is about 550. Sixty-two mph comes in 4.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.

What we didn’t know is the prototype, which has a carbon fiber body, weighs 3,527 pounds. Neil says Audi hopes to get the production model down to 3,200. The car promises to be a blast to drive, what with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and regenerative braking.