Analysis Paralysis: Audi Offers Yet Another Electric Car Study

By · November 22, 2011

Audi A3 e-tron

Audi is showing an all-electric A3 e-tron "technology study" at the 2011 LA Auto Show.

It’s hard to keep track of the long line of plug-in car concepts from Audi. While other car companies (most notably Nissan) made a firm decision to make and sell an electric car three or four years ago—and now sells EVs by the thousands—Audi continues to study the issue. At the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, running through Nov. 27, Audi is now showing its all-electric A3 e-tron—what it calls a "technology study."

This latest concept follows the e-tron R8 electric supercar (apparently going into small-scale production); an A1 e-tron EV; and an A3 plug-in hybrid. Six months ago, PluginCars.com contributor Laurent Masson praised the A3 plug-in hybrid’s aesthetics, but called the electric motor “an unwanted child.” It only accounts for 27 horsepower of the car’s 238 total horsepower. “When you switch on the electric mode,” he wrote, “You find yourself reduced to just 11 percent of the power you had when driving in hybrid mode. Ouch!”

Maybe Audi was listening when Laurent called for Audi to ditch the wimpy plug-in hybrid idea, and turn the A3 into a pure electric car that can take on competitors. "We thought about other solutions,” said Heiko Seegatz, Audi’s product strategist, in an interview with Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. “One of them is a range-extender solution and we have the A1 to test this…And [now] we have the A3 battery electric to test another solution."

The company, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, uses the conventional A3 as the basis for the latest concept on display in Los Angeles. The A3 e-tron cranks out a continuous 60 kW (equivalent to 82 horsepower) and peaks at 85 kW (114 horsepower). Maximum torque is listed at 199 pound-feet, with the power delivered to the A3's front axle via a single-speed transmission. The 26.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is located under the A3's luggage compartment, rear seat and in the vehicle's center tunnel. Range for the A3 e-tron is listed at 87 miles. The electric Audi does the 0-60 mph dash in 11 seconds and top speed checks in at 90 miles per hour.

Audi A3 e-tron charging

All-electric Audi A3 e-tron charges up.

The Sydney Morning Herald, which spent some time behind the wheel of various e-tron versions, said A3 EV drivers can choose from four different brake settings, to adjust the amount of regenerative braking and coasting. That’s a desirable feature. But all features at this point are theoretical, because the German luxury brand isn’t saying when the A3 e-tron will be made.

Yet, according to the Australian newspaper, Audi plans to offer an entire lineup of e-tron electric cars by 2020. You can say whatever you want about what you’re going to do in 2020. The harder thing is to choose one of those e-tron vehicles—preferably the one that is most accessible to mainstream buyers—and actually bring it to market, rather than rolling out yet another concept study version.

Comments

· · 2 years ago

Brad, the unfortunate truth is that most major car companies are doing the same thing. Only Nissan and Chevy have actually sold "thousands" of them.
Who else has really made a concrete decision to sell EV's "in the thousands"?
Mitsubishi's i should sell OK and as far as I can tell the Ford Focus EV excitement has really died out after the price was announced. BMW is about to start yet another trial lease (BTW, I'll be getting my car in a couple weeks), but they are still about 22 months from selling their first i3.

Sure Audi is all talk, but in my book so is Mercedes, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, VW, Fiat & Volvo, and Chrysler hasn't even gotten to the talking point yet.

· goldenfooler (not verified) · 2 years ago

Volvo does have the V60 plug in hybrid coming out in 2012. Its just not any pure electrics.
Though products coming to the USA are lacking in models.
Their new SPA, for Scalable Platform Architecture, which will be in the coming cars will should allow all cars to have "electrification".

· · 2 years ago

@Tom - I agree. I find myself repeating that Nissan is gong to run away with the EV market.

· · 2 years ago

I completely agree with your conclusions. The VAG concern has prototypes for VW, Audi and Seat, but there is absolutely no proof they are taking EV's seriously. I suspect that most OEM's are milking the ICE cash cow until they can no more. The German government keeps pouring in money to subsidize the development of EV's and battery technology, but no serious results come out.
Most German OEM's make more profit per month than Tesla has spend on Model S, but obviously it is not spend on EV´s.

· · 2 years ago

There is no subsistute for actually producing EVs in volume and getting them out there. There are so many things that a car company needs to build and improve and work the bugs out of. Not just the design of the vehicle, but manufacturing, assembly, part logistics, maintenance, etc.

In a few years the other car companies are really going to loose a lot of market share to Nissan.

It reminds me of that number that Nissan put out a while back that 80% of all LEAF buyers never owned a Nissan before.

· Bubba Nicholson (not verified) · 2 years ago

Honda makes portable generators. Portable generators can be left at home. Portable generators can be useful in black-outs and in emergencies. Shouldn't electric cars just have a spot for a portable generator, say, in the 'boat tail'? Such a generator could charge the vehicle when parked at work, building up power for the drive home. Honda should just incorporate one of their existing generators in an EV design that allows use of portable generators, solar, and plug in all standard. Sure governments would object, but perhaps the people would not.

· Chris O (not verified) · 2 years ago

The industry is divided in EV visionaries (basically just Nissan and some smaller start ups like Tesla and Coda) and the rest who are just in it to hedge their bets, comply with emission standards or keep politicians happy. VAG is a typical example of a complacent ICE age dinosaur that's dragged into doing EVs kicking and screaming. It was an Audi exec that literally called the Volt a car for idiots and that nicely sums up the general attitude of VAG towards EVs.

· Brett Owen (not verified) · 2 years ago

I was at the International Car Show in Sacramento two weeks ago and Ford was offering test drives of the Ford Focus 2012. Every once and a while, somebody would ask, "Is is the EV version?". The answer was strangely, "No". Why would Ford not be taking the priciest Focus around for a test drive right before it's about to go on sale? I don't know. At least they're selling it I guess.

I think for Audi though, if the concept car can drive successfully for a week, maybe it's time to start selling it at this point. I don't see plenty of time left to jump in to the EV market and still be 'special'.

· iletric (not verified) · 2 years ago

"Audi plans to offer an entire lineup of e-tron electric cars by 2020."
2020. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Are they nuts? That's 8 years from now!

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