Audi launches electric SUV in Tesla’s backyard, with assist from Amazon

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German luxury car brand Audi on Monday staged the global launch of a new electric sport utility vehicle on the home turf of rival Tesla Inc, and highlighted a deal with Amazon.com Inc to make recharging its forthcoming e-tron models easier.

The Audi e-tron midsize SUV will be offered in the United States next year at a starting price of $75,795 before a $7,500 tax credit. It is one of a volley of electric vehicles coming from Volkswagen AG brands, as well as other European premium brands including Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo Cars and Jaguar Land Rover.

All aim to expand the market for premium electric vehicles and also to grab share of that market from Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which has had the niche largely to itself.

“I want Audi to be the number-one electric vehicle seller in America over the long term,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is also head of rocket company SpaceX, planned to mark the e-tron launch occasion by staging a SpaceX event in Los Angeles at roughly the same time on Monday evening as Audi’s unveiling.

Amazon’s partnership with Audi to provide home charging systems is the first time the online retailer has struck such a deal with an automaker, and signals a new front in Amazon’s drive to expand its reach into consumers’ homes beyond the presence of its Alexa smart speakers in living rooms and kitchens.

Lifting the Curtain

Audi has been heralding the launch of the e-tron SUV for some time, but until Monday it had not shared many details of the vehicle.

The e-tron is electric, and has two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear, driving all four wheels. The Hungarian factory building motors for the e-tron will start with a production pace equivalent to 200 vehicles a day, Audi officials said.

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