2 new luxury electric cars take aim at Tesla – USA TODAY
Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk wanted more competition for his plug-in electric cars, and two big announcements this week show he’s going to get it.
Two well-known luxury brands — one German, the other British — both said they’re going to make pricey, long-range, all-electric luxury performance vehicles: Audi and Aston Martin.
• Audi: Its new, luxury electric-crossover concept is being introduced at the auto show next month in Frankfurt and will compete with Tesla’s new Model X, Audi announced Wednesday.
• Aston Martin:The brand best known as the preferred wheels for James Bond said it will start with a luxury electric sedan that will be priced higher than Tesla’s only current model, the Model S sedan.
That’s only the start of what could be a wave of next-generation electric cars that will try to match or beat Tesla for range and performance. Ford CEO Mark Fields has said, for instance, that Ford has the expertise and ability to build a Tesla-style car, and that it would be “consistent with our product philosophy.”
It was only last year that Musk announced that electric-car maker Tesla, based in Palo Alto, Calif., would “open source” its 200 patents to any potential rivals that want access to them. He said he intended the move as a way to encourage the development of more high-performance electric cars like his Model S sedan. More choices will enhance the overall market for electric cars, he reasoned. He added that he wasn’t worried about rivals grabbing Tesla’s technology because he expects to stay ahead by always coming up with new patents.
“We believe that applying the open-source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard,” Musk said at the time.
Now, along comes Audi with its announcement that it will show what it is calling the Audi e-tron quattro, a crossover. It has already been making an electric roadster, the R8 e-tron.
The crossover is longer than the Q5 midsize crossover, but shorter than the full-size Q7. It seats four passengers.
The new crossover would have a range of 310 miles per charge, Audi said. That’s slightly more than for most Teslas, including the Model X crossover, which is due to start deliveries in the next few months.
For Aston Martin, the move to electrify its Rapide sedan isn’t just about the exciting new technology of electric power. Rather, building an electric performance car will provide an offset, it says, that will allow the brand to continue to produce cars and crossovers with powerful gas engines, like its 12-cylinder models, under the government’s tightening fuel-economy standards.
“Electric powertrains are part of our future vision,” said spokesman Matthew Clarke. “Emission regulations will force everybody to make changes.”
And the new car won’t just be a Tesla wannabe, he says. It would be priced above the current high-performance Teslas, which top out at about $120,000, by offering more. The electric equivalent of 800 horsepower alone is sure to attract enthusiasts.
“We think there is a space above Tesla” in the market, Clarke says.
The electric Rapide is expected to be followed a couple of years later by an electric crossover. Aston is showing a crossover currently that it calls the DBX.