When Audi unveiled the e-tron electric supercar back in September, they said the car produces 3,319 lb-ft of torque, which is an incredibly massive amount. What Audi didn’t tell us is that this number was measured at the wheels instead of the engine, where all other car’s torque numbers are rated.
The torque rating at the engine: 501.5 lb-ft – still an impressive number, but nowhere near the 3,319 lb-ft we were told.
So how did Audi arrive at the huge torque rating in the first place? Even though Audi themselves don’t rate any other car’s torque rating at the wheels, they said using wheel torque numbers are a “more accurate indication of how electric motors deliver power.” This is true – it is a more accurate reading for electric cars, but the problem is that nearly every car can deliver gobs of torque at the wheels; we have to compare apples to apples and use a universal system for ratings.
The problem we’re seeing here is that we are still using the same rating systems for alternative energy cars as we’ve always used for internal combustion engines. Now that we have hybrids, electric cars, and even hydrogen cells powering our cars down the road, the rating systems of the past simply aren’t going to work anymore. The upcoming Chevy Volt Hybrid, for example, can travel up to 40 miles without burning a drop of gasoline. After that, the gas engine comes on to recharge the electric motors. So if your daily commute is less than 40 miles, you’re not using a drop of fuel. If it’s longer than that, you are. How can you accurately rate the MPGs of a car like that while still being fair? You can’t. We need to come up with a better system for ratings now that people are buying alternative fuel-powered cars.