Audi A3 e-tron Coming in October, With Questions about EV Range

By · June 11, 2015

2016 Audi A3 e-tron Plug-in Hybrid

Years after Audi’s announcement about offering a plug-in A3, we can finally say with some certainty when the first units will become available in the United States: October 2015. The timing was reported by Autospies.com, based on acquisition of shipping documents.

We had been tracking a vague launch date of fall 2015, so there really hasn’t been a delay. However, according to multiple sources, the Audi A3 e-tron—which went on sale in Germany in August 2014—has faced problems with cold weather. These concerns primarily result in decreased all-electric range when the temperature dips.

As our readers know, the name of the game for plug-in hybrids is using electricity for as many miles as possible—and avoiding trips to the gas station for as long as possible. Reports on the web indicate that cold weather is causing the A3 e-tron's gas engine to start up, but we don’t yet have precise information about exact temperatures.

2016 Audi A3 e-tron Plug-in Hybrid

“Audi is taking a fairly conservative position to ensure the long-term credibility of the e-tron platform and plug-in technology, while still creating the best experience for our drivers in each region,” said Brad Stertz, corporate communications manager for Audi of America, in an interview with AutoblogGreen. “I think it is safe to say low temps affect performance in all vehicles to some degree, but that plug-ins face unique challenges that we will continue to work through with the A3 e-tron and other plug-in models to follow." Stertz previously indicated, in April, that the US model was still being fine-tuned for local driving preferences.

In April, Audi executives said the A3 e-tron’s price point would be around $40,000—although an exact price has not been confirmed. This would put the Audi plug-in hybrid in the same price territory as the BMW i3 and Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, although the A3 e-tron obviously is a plug-in hybrid rather than a pure EV.

2016 Audi A3 e-tron Plug-in Hybrid

The A3 e-tron will only be sold as a five-door hatchback. Its powertrain consists of a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and 75-kilowatt electric motor. Zero-to-60 performance is expected in less than eight seconds, with a combined gas-electric total output of 204 horsepower. The 8.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is expected to provide about 30 miles of all-electric range.

That EV range is according to Audi press releases, and presumably under ideal conditions. European reviewers who have spent behind the wheel of the A3 e-tron have experienced between about 13 and 22 miles of all-electric range, before the gas engine has started. The A3 is more stylish than competing plug-in hybrids, such as the Chevy Volt. However, the 2016 Chevy Volt will offer about 50 miles of all-electric range—a far more compelling proposition for fuel conservation.

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