How the Audi e-tron compares to the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace

Audi just announced its first production electric vehicle. Called the e-tron, the EV is a mid-size SUV loaded with technology with an unofficial range of over 300 miles. It’s nicely equipped, and with a starting price of $74,800, it sits between the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X.

The e-tron is most similar to the Jaguar I-Pace though the Audi is slightly better equipped. The e-tron packs a 95 kWh battery over the Jaguar’s 90 kWh battery. It’s also slightly larger and rated to tow 4,000 lbs.

Comparing the e-tron to the Model X gets messy. Tesla sells the Model X in three flavors: mild, hot, and on fire. The mild version starts at $72,100 and packs a 75 kWh battery good for 237 miles. Spend $88,600 to get the 100D and its 100 kWh battery that’s rated for 295 miles. And for $125,800, buyers can get the P100D that’s good for 298 miles and a 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds.

Autonomous driving modes are available for purchase on each version of the Model X. Audi and Jaguar do not offer autonomous driving on the e-tron or I-Pace.

Spec for spec, the e-tron, I-Pace and Model X offer advantages over each other. Here are the most important technical specifications for each vehicle along with the Toyota RAV4, the top selling SUV in the United States.

Here’s how I see each vehicle’s advantage:

Audi e-tron

  • Best price-to-battery ratio: Buyers get a 95 kWh battery on the base model. For the money, the Audi is the best value when it comes to the range it can travel.
  • Competent controls: Audi installed the same dual-touchscreen system found in its high-end A8 luxury sedan. The top screen handles infotainment while the bottom screen handles climate control and text input. Both screens offer tactile and audio response when touched.
  • It looks and feels like an Audi: The e-tron does not stand out, which could be a good thing for some buyers. It looks and feels like an Audi SUV.
  • Audi is not releasing the range yet: The EPA must certify the e-tron before Audi can advertise the range of the e-tron. Without those numbers, it’s hard to place where the e-tron sits in the landscape. But today at the e-tron launch event, the company hinted at a range that’s superior to that of the Tesla Model X.

Jaguar I-Pace

  • Early reviews of the I-Pace praise the driving: The I-Pace is a crossover and it drives like one. It’s sporty and confident and it has the lowest stance of the three EVs listed here.
  • The I-Pace is a Jag: The I-Pace has the quickest time to 60 mph out of the bunch and is capable of hitting the mark in 4.5 seconds. That’s the same as a 2016 Audi TTS Coupe. However, the more expensive Tesla P100D is much, much quicker with a 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds.
  • Well equipped yet the cheapest: Starting at $69,500, the I-Pace is the least expensive of the bunch. And at that price, it’s well equipped

Tesla Model X P75

  • It’s a Tesla: The Model X looks like nothing else on the road inside and out. To some, it’s a big draw while others shy away from the attention-getting design.
  • The Model X is deceptively large: The Model X comes with five seats, but two jump seats can be added to the rear area. With all the seats down, the Model X has an available storage volume of 88 cubic feet — that’s just 6 cubic feet smaller than a Chevy Tahoe.
  • The Model X can drive itself: The Model X can be equipped with Autopilot, Tesla’s self-driving system that can pilot the SUV on its own.
  • More options: The Model X P100 offers more range and the Model X P100D offers more range and insane performance.

The e-tron hits the US market in the middle of 2019, and by then, there will be additional competitors to compare.

ChargePoint is adding 2.5M electric vehicle chargers over the next 7 years

Electric vehicles still make up just a fraction of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today. But that’s changing: The number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the world’s roads exceeded 3 million in 2017. By 2025, there are expected to be 20 million electric vehicles in just North America and Europe.

And that means the world is going to need a lot more chargers.

ChargePoint, the California startup that provides infrastructure for electric vehicles, said Friday it will expand its network of chargers nearly 50-fold over the next seven years. The company, which has more than 53,000 chargers in operation today, has committed to a global network of 2.5 million charging spots by 2025.

The majority of these new EV chargers will be evenly split between Europe and North America, with smaller percentages in Australia and New Zealand, the company said Friday at the Global Climate Action Summit.

ChargePoint has raised more than $292 million since its founding in 2007. It’s used the funds to add chargers to its network, including an expansion last year into Europe. The company secured an $82 million funding round, led by automaker Daimler in May 2017. A month later the company announced another $43 million in funding from German engineering giant Siemens to bolster its European expansion.

The network expansion comes at an auspicious time for automakers, a number of which are planning to roll out electric vehicles in the next several years. Tesla has its own network of chargers that it calls superchargers. The automaker has invested heavily to build out the network, which is now 1,342 stations with 11,013 superchargers globally.

Only Tesla vehicles can use that network, which aims to promote long-distance travel. Other automakers that are beginning to sell EVs will rely heavily on third-party EV providers like ChargePoint. It’s estimated that at least 40 new electric vehicle models will be introduced in the next five years. Jaguar will start delivering its first EV, the i-Pace crossover, to customers in the U.S. this fall. Audi plans to introduce its first electric vehicle, the e-tron, on Monday.

Audi taps Israeli startup Cognata to accelerate AV ambitions

Audi is turning to Israeli startup Cognata to help the automaker validate its autonomous vehicles in the virtual world before they head out on the road for testing.

Autonomous Intelligent Driving, Audi’s self-driving unit led by a team of former Microsoft, Tesla and internal Audi veterans, says it will use Cognata’s autonomous vehicle simulation platform to test and develop its technology.

AID says the multi-year partnership will help it bring its self-driving vehicles to market faster. The partnership illustrates the demand for advanced simulation technology as companies race to safely develop and deploy autonomous vehicles.

“At AID, we are convinced that simulation is a key tool to increase our development speed and a necessary one for the validation of our product and for proving it is safe,” according to AID CTO Alex Haag, who had a brief stint at secretive self-driving startup Zoox and as a senior manager on Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot team.

The deal also highlights the growing ecosystem of Israeli startups, many of which developed technology initially designed for military use, such as drones and other defense applications, only to find a hungry customer base within the autonomous vehicle industry.

Cognata, which raised $5 million last year from Airbus Ventures, Emerge and Maniv Mobility, recreates cities in its 3D simulation platform to give customers a variety of testing scenarios. The platform pulls in layers of data to help build these virtual environments. It starts with recreating real cities, then adds AI-based traffic models to simulate real-world conditions, as well as data from the vehicle’s sensors.

Kitty Hawk begins certifying its self-flying taxis for service in New Zealand

 The flying car company led by Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page is breaking cover with a new deal that will see it test its autonomous electric air taxis with the New Zealand government, with the aim of having a commercial network ready to carry passengers within as little as three years, the New York Times reports.
Kitty Hawk, which has so far only… Read More