The A3 e-tron is the follow-up to the e-tron electric sports car shown earlier in Frankfurt and Los Angeles. That vehicle, while gorgeous, is mostly show. Four electric-drive motors, one for each wheel, pump out more than 300 horsepower. Electric fuel is stored in a sizable 53-kWh lithium ion battery pack. Edmunds reported that Audi is aiming for a selling price of around $160,000, with limited production volume of one or two hundred in 2012.
The A3 e-tron is a tiny, yet more practical, approach. The much smaller, and therefore more affordable 12-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery, is matched up with a front-mounted 102-horsepower electric motor and an efficient lightweight 252cc Wankel rotary engine. That’s right, a gas-burning engine on board—an acknowledgment that a plug-in hybrid can solve the pure electric car's problem of limited range. After 30 miles of all-electric driving, the gas engine allows for an additional 125 miles, according to Audi. The car is a subcompact, meaning that it’s probably targeted to crowded urban centers in Europe.