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Challenging Tesla, Audi begins electric SUV production

Luxury carmaker Audi has initiated its plan to give stiff competition to Tesla (TSLA) with the start of production of the most-anticipated all-electric “e-tron Quattro SUV” at its Brussels factory. This is just two weeks ahead of the vehicle’s planned debut on September 17 this year.

It is expected that people could buy the vehicle in early 2019 with the launch being scheduled by the automaker at the end of this year. The company will accept reservations for the vehicle in the US on the same debut date with an initial $1,000 deposit, and it can be configured at Audi’s website on the same day.

The e-tron SUV is Audi’s first of the three vehicles coming in the next two years, and this could establish the company in the all-electric vehicle space. Audi hasn’t decided on the capacity of the annual production of the vehicles.

The e-tron – a 5-passenger premium SUV – has a 245 miles range and takes about 8.5 hours to charge with the standard home charger that will deliver 11kW. The full technical specifications can be expected at the event.

The company has been experiencing a delay in the launch due to diesel emission scandal that led to CEO Rupert Stadler’s arrest on June 18. Volkswagen, the parent company of Audi, named Bram Schot as Interim CEO, replacing Stadler. Stadler will remain at a prison in the Bavarian city of Augsburg after the rejection of an appeal.

Related: Audi CEO behind bars due to dieselgate emission scandal

Stadler was arrested over allegations that he attempted to tamper with evidence relating to a scandal. The court alleges that Stadler had knowledge of emission-software manipulation and he allowed cars fitted with such so-called “defeat devices” to still be sold. About 11 million Volkswagen cars were fitted with defeat devices that bypassed the emissions tests.

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