(CNN)Audi revealed its new Q4 E-Tron electric SUV Wednesday — the company’s cheapest electric model, with a starting price of $45,000.
With US federal electric vehicle tax credits, that means it should effectively cost $37,500 in its least expensive version. That’s slightly less than a Tesla Model 3 sedan and much less than a Tesla Model Y SUV. (Tesla vehicles are not currently eligible for federal tax credits.) While there are more luxury electric crossovers entering the market few, so far, cost nearly as little as the Q4, which is priced similarly to the Ford Mustang Mach-E. The Volvo XC40 Recharge, for instance, costs almost $9,000 more to start.The Audi Q4 E-Tron will be Audi’s entry-level electric SUV.Audi isn’t revealing the prices for the more expensive versions of its new SUV yet, though. Those details will come closer to when the Q4 E-Tron goes on sale by the end of this year.The entry-level Q4 E-Tron will have rear-wheel-drive, not all-wheel drive, though more expensive versions will have all-wheel-drive.) The least expensive model will be able to go about 250 miles on a charge, according to the German luxury brand. The base model’s electric motor will provide a maximum output of 201 horsepower. More expensive all-wheel-drive versions, which will have electric motors in the front and back of the vehicle, will be able to produce up to 295 horsepower.A slightly squared-off steering wheel will be optional on the Audi Q4 E-Tron.The Q4 E-Tron will be available in two slightly different body shapes, a regular crossover SUV and the Sportback version. The Sportback, which will be available only with all-wheel-drive, will have a more sloped rear end. Besides the aesthetic difference, this shape also has slightly better aerodynamics. Read MoreIn all-wheel-drive versions of the Q4 E-Tron, the front motor will be used only in situations where more power or traction are needed. Most of the time, the SUV will be driven by its rear wheels alone.On the outside, the Q4 E-Tron is slightly larger than the Audi Q3, the smallest SUV Audi offers in the US. Inside, though, Audi executives boast, the interior space is similar to that of the larger Audi Q5. Electric vehicles tend to have more interior space than similarly-sized gasoline cars. That’s because electric motors are more compact than gas engines with similar power and electric vehicles don’t need bulky transmissions with different gears.The Audi Q4 Sportback E-Tron will have a sloped rear that gives this version somewhat better aerodynamics.The Q4 E-Tron shares much of its engineering with the Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV. (Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group (VLKPF).) Like the ID.4, and unlike many other electric vehicles, it has no “frunk” or front trunk. Instead, the space under the hood is taken up with electronic and mechanical parts.Besides the usual touchscreens and digital displays offered in most new vehicles today, the Q4 E-Tron will also offer an optional “augmented reality” head-up display. Ordinary head up displays show information reflected in the windshield so that it appears to be floating in front of the vehicle. Augmented reality displays show some information, such as navigation arrows, so they line up with things like roads and intersections in the real world outside.Audi's new four-door electric sports car takes on a world of SUVsLike other Audis, and most other new vehicles, the Q4 E-Tron will have distinctive daytime running lights. These are lights around the headlights. They stay on during the day to make the vehicle more readily visible and to provide a distinctive appearance. Unlike in most vehicles, though, Audi Q4 E-Tron drivers will be able to switch among four different patterns for the daytime lights.Audi currently offers the larger Audi E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback electric SUVs and, later this year, will offer the Audi E-Tron GT, a performance-oriented hatchback car. Audi’s E-Tron line is part of a larger push by the Volkswagen Group to become a major competitor in the electric vehicle market.