Audi Developing Long-Range Electric Car to Challenge Tesla: Report

Tesla Model S

Arriving in 2017, the electric sedan will hold five passengers and have a range of about 280 miles, giving Tesla's Model S its first direct competition

Tesla Motors' monopoly on long-range electric luxury cars may be coming to an end as early as 2017.

Audi revealed this week that it is reportedly deep in development on a pure electric car that would hold five passengers and have a range — 280 miles — on par with that of the Tesla Model S.

In an interview with Auto Express, Audi chief technology officer Ulrich Hackenberg said that "such a car is under development" and that the technology would be adapted from Audi's R8-etron electric supercar. Hackenberg said that the car, probably a sedan, would available "around 2017."

The Tesla Model S is able to travel nearly 300 miles on a single charge — roughly triple the range of other pure electric cars — which has been one of its strongest selling points. An electric Audi with similar range and performance would give the Model S its first real competition.

Meanwhile, BMW — buoyed by better-than-expected sales of its new iDivision cars, the i3 electric and i8 plug-in hybrid — is readying an advanced plug-in hybrid system, Power eDrive, to be used in its premium cars, including the 7 series sedan and X series SUVs. The system combines electric motors and gasoline engines to boost horsepower and extend range.

Porsche is rumored to be developing its own all-electric Telsa competitor, a smaller version of the Panamera, which was the first luxury sedan to be offered as a plug-in hybrid model.

When asked about the car in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter at the L.A. Auto Show last week, Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen denied such a car was in the works, but said that "we are working on different derivatives [of power trains]" and that for now the plug-in hybrid engine best suits the company's values.

The news of Audi's electric sedan came after Tesla announced that its much-delayed Model X crossover SUV would be postponed, yet again, until the third quarter of 2015.

Tesla may find its monopoly on that market will be short-lived, too. According to Green Car Reports, Audi is developing an electric crossover SUV, the Q8, with a range of 370 miles, which would directly compete with the Model X.

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