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Audi's long-awaited Taycan-troubling e-tron GT is approaching production readiness

One of the stars of the 2018 LA Auto Show, the Audi e-tron GT has been hotly anticipated since. A low, wide, four-door saloon, it is almost typical Audi in the way it looks, but its electric heart promises near-silent performance which could well challenge the likes of the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S Performance. 

Similar in both size and concept to the aforementioned Taycan, the e-tron GT (Gran Turismo) is based on the same J1 platform, and is set to have the same 800 volt electronic architecture as the all-conquering Stuttgart Bahnstormer. It caught headlines and much attention two years ago at the LA Auto Show when it seemed all but ready to drive, but two years' further development and several other e-tron models later, Audi is finally preparing to launch.

In a pre-launch preview release from Ingolstadt, Audi has announced that the brand's first fully electric car to be built in Germany will start rolling off the production line at Audi Böllinger Höfe at the Neckarsulm site before the end of the year. For reference, that's the plant where the R8 is manufactured, and Audi is playing heavily on the lengths it has gone to in blending 'traditional craftsmanship' with digital process and new, smart technologies.

For example, the working procedures on the production line, and associated logistics practices, were tested using VR technology. In fact, in a first for the brand the overall production of the e-tron GT was designed without physical prototypes – which is both impressive and potentially problematic if the software was in some way out of kilter.

But this is Audi, so we doubt there will be issues.

Processes that are already applied to the R8 will also be applied to the e-tron GT, ensuring that whether a human or robotic process, everything is essentially perfect. And if it's not, it will be picked up upon. “With the integration of the Audi R8 and Audi e-tron GT, a unique combination of craftsmanship and smart factory technology is coming to life at Böllinger Höfe,” says Production Head Wolfgang Schanz. “I am especially proud of the passion and spirit of our team.”

e-sound for the e-tron

Given an EV's inherent lack of noise, Audi is making much of the artificial sounds that have been specially created for it to replace the V8 thrum a flagship car like this might once have had. Two sound engineers, Rudolf Halbmier and Stephan Gsell, have created a distinct, progressive sound using computer, a sound laboratory, within the moving car and – crucially – using customer studies for the e-tron GT.

The regulation acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS) to deter unwary pedestrians from making a mess of the highly crafted front end of the car has also been developed using a similarly exacting process. An optional rear AVAS speaker should mean that reversing into people and things is less likely, too.

What else do we know?

Not a huge amount about the car that will be entering production in the next couple of months. Those facts and figures will emerge when Audi officially launches the car. However, there was a fairly complete set of stats around the 2018 concept, and these are likely a good indication of what will be launched.

Power for the e-tron GT concept was 582bhp, sent to all four wheels via an electric motor on each axle. Audi estimated the 0-62mph time to be 3.5 seconds and the 0-124 time in just over 12 seconds, with a regulated top speed of 149mph. A battery storing 'more than' 90kWh would enable the car to drive for around 250 miles on a charge. These figures are more-or-less in line with the Porsche Taycan Turbo.

Audi has hinted in the past that it would follow the regular GT with an RS version, promising more power and performance, albeit likely with a reduced range. You can bet that its vitals will be similar to that of the Taycan Turbo S. Unfortunately we will have to wait just a little longer to find out exactly what the Audi has up its sleeve.

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