Audi has revealed its latest vision of electrification, the Audi A6 e-tron Concept, and once again we’re seeing a very thinly-veiled tease of an important production model in the not-too-distant future. Debuting at the 2021 Shanghai Motor Show today, the A6 e-tron borrows a name and a footprint from a mainstay of Audi’s traditional line-up, but the rest is thoroughly modern.
The A6 E-Tron concept Audi showed off on Monday at Auto Shanghai 2021 is pretty straightforward as far as concepts go, which is in keeping with how the automaker has handled these reveals lately. To wit, the Q4 E-Tron electric SUV that Audi debuted just last week is a dead ringer for the “concept” version it first showed off at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. While there are plenty more details and specifics to be learned about the production A6 E-Tron — including price — what we’re seeing now will likely translate closely to what will eventually go on sale.
Familiar Name, Brand New Styling:
The badge may be the same, but the A6 e-Tron is a long way from the A6 on the road today. It’s a Softback, in Audi styling terms, with a long hatchback rear that helps both aesthetically and with aerodynamics. We can probably expect to see more of that in electric luxury vehicles generally; Mercedes-Benz’s recently announced EQS follows the same strategy.
That’s not to say Audi isn’t doing its own work. The company has spent years developing electric motor technology for its motorsports division (including fielding a team in the all-electric racing series Formula E). And in the A6 E-Tron concept, Audi says it’s even going to squeeze an extra few miles out of the PPE’s battery pack thanks to a special paint that can reflect “a significant percentage of the thermal radiation in sunlight,” meaning drivers will have to rely less on the air conditioning system, which can draw a significant amount of energy.
And anyway, Audi’s cars and SUV’s are as much about the premium in-car experience as they are about what powers them. With that in mind, Audi is touting some notable upgrades to its already advanced lighting tech with the A6 E-Tron concept.
For one thing, the company says its so-called “Digital Matrix LED” headlights (which are only available outside the US) have gained new capabilities. These lights, which use a complex shutter system to sculpt the LED light into specific shapes and animations, can now project an Audi-developed video game on a nearby wall or garage door.
Underneath the A6 e-tron Concept, the PPE platform:
Where the recently-announced Q4 e-tron uses VW Group’s MEB platform for all-electric vehicles, the A6 e-tron Concept relies on the PPE, or Premium Platform Electric, 800v architecture. Co-developed by Audi and Porsche, it’s focused on luxury performance electric models, rather than making a specific play for the mainstream like MEB. One, it gives people a rough idea of what to expect from the ultimate production version of the A6 E-Tron. And two, it’s a first look at what Audi will do with the electric cars it’s building on that PPE platform — the same platform that will almost certainly power electric versions of other high-end A-series sedans.