Audi rolls out A3 e-tron plug-in

“e-tron” is Audi’s lineup of electric cars and hybrid concepts. The automaker introduced the first one, called the Audi e-tron concept, in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Audi has now released information on the latest addition to the family which is scheduled to debut this week at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

The first version of the Audi A3 e-tron was a pure electric which Audi built as a “feasiblity” study in EVs. The automaker now plans to debut a plug-in hybrid variant at Geneva. The heart of this newest e-tron, like the rest of its electrified siblings, is its unique powertrain.

Audi has coupled the A3 e-tron’s 1.4 – liter four-cylinder engine to an electric motor. Power delivery, according to Audi, is a combined total of over 200 horsepower and jaw-dropping 258 lb-ft of torque. The A3 e-tron bolts from a dead stop to 60 mph in less than eight seconds and can quickly reach its top speed of 137 mph.

The Audi A3 e-tron’s engine duo is linked to a six-speed DSG “automatic” transmission. Fuel economy is an estimated 156 mpg. The e-tron can switch running strictly on gasoline engine, the electric motor and battery, or a combination of the two.

In pure electric mode, the A3 e-tron can reach speeds up to over 80 mph and has a range of around 31 miles before exhausting its battery. Drivers can actually have both the four-cylinder engine and electric motor running simultaneously for greater power (called “boosting”). Both engines can briefly turn off (“gliding”) in certain circumstances, extending the A3 e-tron’s battery life.

Audi has not officially announced if the A3 e-tron will go into production or be sold in the U.S. Other e-tron models include a second coupe concept that debuted at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show (also called the e-tron); the A1 e-tron; A6 e-tron concept; and the e-tron Spyder convertible. A production version of the original Audi e-tron was suppose to go on sales late last year as the R8 e-tron sports coupe. Audi has not officially canceled it; instead, it seems to have been put on hiatus.

Joel Arellano, EarthTechling