Audi wants its global range to include at least 20 electric models by 2025. It currently has access to three platforms designed to underpin battery-powered cars, and it released details about a fourth architecture named Premium Platform Electric (PPE) it's currently developing with sister company Porsche.
PPE will underpin most of the medium-sized and large EVs that will join the Audi range in the 2020s. It's a joint effort, Audi and Porsche engineers are developing it from scratch under the same roof, and it's being designed to be as modular as possible. It will be capable of accommodating a wide range of body styles including low-slung sedans, spacious wagons American may or may not get, and high-riding SUVs. The battery pack is the common denominator; neither brand will build a V8-powered car or a hybrid on PPE because it's all electric, all the time.
Some PPE-based cars will be marketed as high-performance models. Thomas Kolthoff, PPE's project manager, told Autoblog in late 2019 that the platform will be compatible with four-wheel steering, air suspension, and torque vectoring, though each brand will decide whether to make these features available on a case-by-case basis. PPE will offer rear-wheel drive and one electric motor in its standard configuration, but making it all-wheel drive will be as simple as adding a second motor over the front axle. Several battery sizes will fit in between the wheels, too.
An 800-volt electrical system similar to the Porsche Taycan's will make PPE-based cars compatible with 350-kilowatt fast-charging. Specifications like horsepower and driving range haven't been announced yet.
- Audi EV range
It's a bit too early to tell precisely what Audi will build on the PPE platform, but we spotted an intriguing mockup of an A5-sized four-door sedan with an even faster-sloping roof line while visiting the company's engineering headquarters in late 2019. Wolf Seebers, one of the firm's exterior designers, told us we were looking at one of two PPE-based proposals that could morph into production models. Photography was prohibited — sorry, folks. The best we can do is show you two official photos (above) in which the car is visible but out of focus.
Porsche is remaining tight-lipped, too, but it announced the next-generation Macan will be one of the first cars built on the PPE architecture. It will be sold alongside the current, gasoline-powered model for several years. We'd wager other brands in the Volkswagen Group will have access to it, too.
The three other platforms are relatively familiar. MLB Evo is the one that underpins the E-Tron and the E-Tron Sportback. It's an electrified version of architecture found under gasoline- powered models like the A6, the A8, the Q7, and the Q8, among others. J1 was designed for the aforementioned Taycan and its taller, roomier counterpart, but it will also find its way under the production version of the E-Tron GT concept introduced in 2018. Finally, the MEB architecture was developed by parent company Volkswagen for smaller electric cars, like the ID.3 sold in Europe and the ID.4 expected to arrive in American showrooms in the not-too-distant future. Audi will use it to build a crossover named Q4 E-Tron previewed by the eponymous concept shown in 2019.
That's just the tip of a mammoth-sized iceberg. At least two additional MEB-based EVs will join the Audi range.
"We can envision a sportier version [of the Q4] and a sedan," Markus Jeschke, the project manager for the MEB platform, told Autoblog during a media event in 2019. Viewed in this light, Audi's claim to offer 20 electric cars in its global portfolio in five short years looks a lot more realistic. Expect to learn more in the coming months.