Audi boss admits Tesla is two years ahead

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Audi’s future is electric, but today it’s far from the leader in the segment. In fact, it’s behind.

On Thursday Automotive News reported that Audi CEO Markus Duesmann told a German daily publication that Tesla’s the leader in electrification.

“Currently, Tesla has larger batteries because their cars are built around the batteries. Tesla is two years ahead in terms of computing and software architecture, and in autonomous driving as well,” he said.

Audi currently sells the electric E-Tron luxury crossover SUV in the U.S. with a swoopier Sportback model on its way. Both feature the fit, finish, and level of luxury one expects from an Audi. But both fall short in one meaningful metric: range.

The standard E-Tron has an EPA range rating of 204 miles while the more aerodynamic E-Tron Sportback ups that to 218 miles. Both fall short of Tesla’s offerings.

A Tesla Model X crossover SUV is offered with an EPA-rated range of up to 318 miles, while the more aerodynamic Model S luxury sedan ups the EPA-rated range to as much as 402 miles. That’s nearly double the range of Audi’s best offering today.

In July, Audi revealed a three-motor E-Tron S model with more power and better performance, but the same battery pack as the standard models. No range ratings have been released, but it’s unlikely to have a meaningful increase in range.

Today’s electric Audi lineup is built on modified internal combustion engine platforms, which limits packaging for the battery pack and the interior. Tomorrow’s electric cars from Audi will be built on platforms, known as MEB and PPE, designed specifically for electric cars. Marc Lichte, Audi’s head of design, told Motor Authority in November that these platforms will change the proportions of future electric Audis with short front and rear overhangs. This will also allow for more interior space for occupants along with different shapes for larger battery packs.

Duesmann replaced Bram Shot as Audi’s CEO in November 2018. Duesmann previously worked at BMW in powertrain development and as head of both purchasing and the supplier network.

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Saurabh Shukla

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