The masterpiece: the Audi e-tron GT

The fully electric Audi e-tron GT quattro is a masterpiece of engineering art – in terms of its technology, aerodynamics and design. This electric car signposts where the future of Audi lies. Which details make this vehicle a masterpiece?

03/18/2021 Copy: Bernd Zerelles  Photos: Robert Fischer Talking Sustainable Business Reading Time: 8 min

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Talking Sustainable Business – Key Facts

  • Audi electric platform enables a four-door gran turismo sports car with a surprising sense of space and absolute everyday usability.
  • Thanks to sophisticated aerodynamics, the Audi e-tron GT is one of the most efficient Audi vehicles.
  • The design impresses with perfect proportions and forward-looking details.

Audi e-tron GT Licht
Dr. Karl Durst, Head of Requirements Management/Architecture Whole Vehicle

The formula for progress

During our video call, Dr. Karl Durst waves his cup of coffee around with a wry smile: “Basically I could illustrate our work very well with this cup. The cup needs to satisfy various requirements: It needs to hold 0.3 liters of liquid, you need to be able to hold it with one hand and it needs to keep the liquid hot for a while. It’s the same with a vehicle: Every Audi needs to satisfy various different requirements. If it’s an Avant, it needs to be family-friendly with ample space for three kids on the rear seat. A sports car needs to have excellent driving dynamics. The concept for a vehicle is defined by requirements. And the requirements come from our customers.”

The concept for a vehicle is defined by requirements. And the requirements come from our customers.

Dr. Karl Durst, Head of Requirements Management/Architecture Whole Vehicle

Focus on the customer

“With the electric platform as our basis, we can now bring together aspects of the vehicle architecture of the Audi e-tron GT that were previously incompatible.”

Dr. Karl Durst, Head of Requirements Management/Architecture Whole Vehicle

Thus the concept starts with the customer’s wishes. And in the case of the Audi e-tron GT quattro, they are as clear-cut as they are incompatible. Or at least, they have been until now. Plenty of customers want a vehicle that is beautiful, very sporty, fit for everyday use and sustainable. The challenge is that very sporty vehicles do not usually score highly on everyday usability. And if the focus shifts too much towards everyday usability, developers are inclined to create a purely functional vehicle that will then be less aerodynamic or sporty.

But the future often makes things possible that were difficult to imagine in the past. That is where electric mobility steps into the role of enabler. Durst, who is effectively the project owner in defining the performance specifications for new vehicles, puts it like this: “With the electric platform as our basis, we can now bring together aspects of the vehicle architecture of the Audi e-tron GT that were previously incompatible.”

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

The new Audi e-tron GT quattro and Audi RS e-tron GT. Fully electric and produced at Böllinger Höfe, these vehicles combine forward-looking technologies with Audi’s commitment to premium quality, and therefore symbolize the electrical performance of the future.
The new Audi e-tron GT quattro and Audi RS e-tron GT. Fully electric and produced at Böllinger Höfe, these vehicles combine forward-looking technologies with Audi’s commitment to premium quality, and therefore symbolize the electrical performance of the future.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

The electric vehicle concept

There is no ten-cylinder engine restricting the cabin. Instead, small electric motors on the axles permit an interior with abundant space for four passengers. The agility and surprising acceleration of the electric drive is combined with a high range, which also benefits from excellent aerodynamics. The absence of a combustion engine enables proportions that produce an exciting design.

The result is a fully electric, four-door, driver-focused Gran Turismo with high-performance handling characteristics. “The Audi e-tron GT is the best example of how utterly contradictory requirements drive us further forward than we had ever imagined in our wildest dreams,” adds Durst.

A Gran Turismo is a sporty touring car with excellent dynamic handling, a confident glider. The Audi e-tron GT shares this character.
A Gran Turismo is a sporty touring car with excellent dynamic handling, a confident glider. The Audi e-tron GT shares this character.

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption, combined*: 19.6–18.8 kWh/100km (NEDC); 21.6–19.9 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

The vehicle is a breathtaking combination: dynamic, practical, efficient and a design icon.

Dr. Karl Durst, Head of Requirements Management/Architecture Whole Vehicle

Active aerodynamics improve range

  

Dr. Moni Islam, Head of Aerodynamics/Aeroacoustics Development


Dr. Moni Islam is standing in front of an oversized LED wall that displays an aerodynamics simulation of the Audi e-tron GT. He throws his arms wide open and follows the simulated airflow along the vehicle’s silhouette. Brimming with pride, he declares: “With the Audi e tron GT we’ve succeeded in blending fantastic design with very good aerodynamics.”

The Canadian makes no secret of the huge challenge his specific discipline has faced: “For system reasons, electric vehicles can carry less energy on board in their battery than conventional vehicles have in their fuel tank. So we need to take special care when using that electrical energy. For us engineers, there’s a huge incentive to develop the best possible aerodynamics for all our electric models.”

Every one-thousandth degree of improvement in the aerodynamics can extend the range. That is because aerodynamic drag is often the dominant component of road resistance for an electric vehicle when driven by the customer. At speeds beyond about 100 km/h, it already accounts for roughly half of total road resistance. At a steady 140 km/h, aerodynamic drag approximately doubles. That inflates energy consumption by around 50 percent.

Aerodynamics: Scoring decimal points

01/29/2021

Aerodynamics: Scoring decimal points

Even the tiniest improvements in aerodynamics add to an electric car’s range. Dr. Moni Islam, Head of Aerodynamics/Aeroacoustics Development at Audi, talks about striving for perfection in the Audi e-tron models.

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Audi e-tron GT aerodynamics
In combination, the vehicle details create a sculpture that looks like it was shaped by the wind. This is further underscored by styling with a high degree of aerodynamic quality. The drag coefficient amounts to only 0.24.

Levers for optimizing aerodynamics

But the electric vehicle concept is conducive to efficient aerodynamics. For example, the Audi e-tron GT has a completely enclosed underbody that is smooth from tip to tail. Such a design is only possible because the battery drive means there is no exhaust system. That already improves the airflow enormously. Also, the electric motors of the Audi e-tron GT operate much more efficiently than a combustion engine. They transmit less heat to the surroundings and cooling is needed much more rarely and to a lesser extent. That allows the aerodynamics engineers to employ intelligent cooling air management on the Audi e-tron GT.

The closable side cooling air inlets

“We’ve realized a raft of measures to manage the aerodynamics optimally on the Audi e-tron GT. First, the closable side cooling air inlets are a very important aerodynamic feature of the forward structure,” emphasizes Islam. “The louver system on these air inlets is controlled electronically and regulates automatically how much cooling air the vehicle needs. Depending on the driving profile, the louvers remain closed for much of the journey – that keeps the drag coefficient as low as possible.”

The extending rear spoiler

  

Audi e-tron GT aerodynamics

Fascinating effects thanks to technological innovation: active adjustment of aerodynamics by the rear spoiler adjustable in two stages.

Another innovation is the extending rear spoiler, which for the first time on an Audi has several positions to optimize the various driving modes. This means that in any driving mode the rear spoiler can adjust the direction of the airflow to produce the most appropriate aerodynamics. In eco mode, the slipstream is brought together as close to parallel and to the vehicle’s tail end as possible. The reason? The smaller this low-pressure zone at the rear, the lower the entire vehicle’s resistance. In the dynamic mode, the rear spoiler is angled much more steeply to reduce lift at the rear wheels to the minimum level required.

The adaptive air suspension

  

Audi e-tron GT aerodynamics

The exterior of the Audi RS e-tron GT is a dynamic work of art. Each surface and each line is harmonious – from the headlights to the large diffuser at the rear.

The controllable features also include the adaptive air suspension. “Height adjustment is important for aerodynamic reasons. The lowest position, the setting for fast freeway driving, is ideal for the drag coefficient,” explains Islam. He then adds: “From an aerodynamics perspective, I don’t mind if the suspension setting is higher for everyday use in city driving. At those speeds, aerodynamics are barely relevant.”

“The Audi e-tron GT has an outstanding drag coefficient of 0.24. That’s the best drag coefficient to date of any of our electric models. Good aerodynamics are especially important for maximizing the electric range. But if performance is what you want, with very low lift for precision driving dynamics, the Audi e-tron GT can of course also deliver. The technology makes incredible aerodynamic breadth possible.”

― Dr. Moni Islam, Head of Aerodynamics/Aeroacoustics Development 

Perfectly proportioned

Marc Lichte strides swiftly into the studio hall in which the Audi e-tron GT is waiting for the cameras to start rolling, and calls first: “So, is the suspension in the lowest position? That will show off its proportions much better!” Then Lichte simply can’t resist exclaiming: “Doesn’t that thing look just great? A vehicle with a battery in the underbody, a four-seater with plenty of rear headroom, even for tall people like me – but the Audi e-tron GT is still seven centimeters lower than the Audi A7. I always say: Proportions are the basis for good design. Always. And the package of the Audi e-tron GT creates those proportions – they are quite simply perfect.”

Audi e-design of the future

The Audi e-tron GT is the first series-production vehicle to display all the traits that Marc Lichte and his team define as the Audi e-design of the future. Such as the optically inverted Singleframe, which is finished in the body color with a dark surround. It declares from far off: This is an Audi. And – it is electric. Or take the expressive sill design, which very clearly indicates that this vehicle’s nerve center is no longer the engine under the hood, it is the battery beneath the floor. And above all the deep shoulder line, which instead of following the time-honored principle of continuing at one level is now interrupted in the middle, and uses soft lines to accentuate the muscles that define the vehicle silhouette at the front and rear – the so-called quattro muscles. Marc Lichte continues: “These wheel arches. These two muscles. That, for me, is Audi.”

These wheel arches. These two muscles. That, for me, is Audi.

Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design

Aerodynamics as a design feature

  

Audi RS e-tron GT aerodynamic design

A good design always offers high aesthetic value with perfect function. The Audi RS e-tron GT is one such example.

On the Audi e-tron GT the aerodynamics are also visibly expressed as an exterior design feature: by means of air inlets (air curtains) in the front, separating edges integrated into the rear lights, the diffuser at the tail end. But these features do not blatantly demand attention. According to Marc Lichte: “There are all kinds of ways you can express e-mobility in the design. Some electric cars seek to grab your attention. We take a different approach. You can clearly tell the Audi e-tron GT is an electric vehicle. We use the design to illustrate the drive system’s evolution. We believe electric mobility enables us to create the most beautiful cars in the world. That’s our ambition.”

You can clearly tell the Audi e-tron GT is an electric vehicle. We use the design to illustrate the drive system’s evolution.

Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design

Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design

Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design

The technical platform for electric cars now gives Audi designers the scope to craft the vehicle proportions they have always dreamed of. The motors on the axles and the battery between them, in the floor, mean the cabin that is at the heart of the structure can increase in size, pushing the larger wheels further out. Huge wheelbase, huge wheels, short overhangs. That is what defines the unique character of Audi electric vehicles. Marc Lichte cannot suppress his enthusiasm: “The Audi e-tron GT is easily the best car I’ve so far had the privilege to design. The car is like a sketch. It’s ultra-flat, has giant wheels and fabulously short overhangs. Ever since I started sketching cars as a small boy, I’ve been dreaming of creating a vehicle like this.”

The fact that Lichte’s dream has become a reality specifically with the Audi e-tron GT, one of the most aerodynamic – and therefore efficient – Audi models of all time, highlights his expectations of every Audi: “A good design combines high aesthetic value with perfect function.” And as if he can barely believe it himself, Marc Lichte takes another walk around the Audi e-tron GT in the studio hall, stops, smiles and says quietly to himself: “The masterpiece.”

Ever since I started sketching cars as a small boy, I’ve been dreaming of creating a vehicle like this.

Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design

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