Audi is working on an electric all-wheel-drive system for upcoming vehicle generations, a company source has confirmed to us. Audi previously has shown an A5 prototype with an electric motor driving the rear axle, with power distributed through Audi’s sports differential in order to enhance the vehicle’s handling characteristics by torque vectoring.

By driving the rear axle with a separate electric motor, the e-Quattro system eliminates the need for a mechanical connection between the internal-combustion engine and the rear axle. This means more packaging flexibility. But that flexibility comes at a cost, and that cost is weight. The need for batteries and the electric motor could easily offset the savings in the drivetrain.

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The e-Quattro system would fully replace conventional all-wheel drive in vehicle lines where it is offered, but Audi will offer both systems for a lengthy period of time. The compact, MQB-based vehicles like the A3 will retain conventional all-wheel drive, as will the heavier SUV models. The most likely candidates for e-Quattro are the vehicles on the second generation of Audi’s MLB platform, such as the next-generation A4 and A6. Expect to see e-Quattro in two to three years.

By Jens Meiners