Audi takes e-tron to the slopes

Audi’s first fully-electric e-tron takes on the famous Hahnenkamm downhill

Published: February 20, 2019, 4:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 2:55 PM

Audi e-tron

Many makers of all- or 4-wheel drive vehicles love to make commercials of them frolicking in winter wonderlands, turning doughnuts or powering through snow drifts, but Audi has always gone to new heights, often doing the seemingly-impossible to show of its Quattro.

In 1986, an Audi 100 climbed up ski jump hill and in 1993, a tire-less Audi S4 raced up a mountain road in Chile. The latest “stunt” involved World Rallycross champion Mattias Ekström piloting a specially-equipped version of Audi’s first fully-electric e-tron on the steepest section of the famous Hahnenkamm downhill skiing course.

But the e-tron sport utility didn’t just negotiate the spectacular slope of the “Mausefalle” on Kitzbühel’s legendary “Streif” using the same line as the world’s best ski-racers. It ran up the course, climbing the 85% grade.

“We already proved the mettle of the electric SUV last year in a number of Audi e‑tron extreme events. From Pikes Peak to the salt plains of Namibia to the high-voltage test bay in Berlin,” says Peter Oberndorfer, Head of Product and Technology Communications. “With the sensational drive up the ‘Mausefalle,’ we have pushed the boundaries even further and demonstrated all the technical possibilities of quattro technology in an electric car.”

The vehicle was modified to handle the task, with two electric motors on the rear axle and one on the front making a total of 370 kW (496 hp) and 6,579 lb-ft of torque at the 19-inch wheels (which were shod with spiked wheels to provide proper grip), and necessary software upgrades to effectively distribute the outputs.

For safety, the e-tron was fitted with a belay, but it did not exert any pull on the vehicle. It also had the mandatory roll cage and racing harness (also for insurance reasons, we would imagine).

“Conquering an 85% gradient sounds impossible, at first,” said Ekström, who called it one of his most extraordinary experiences. “Even I was impressed with the way this car handled such difficult terrain.”