Audi Cancels Two Plug-In Vehicle Projects

By · June 08, 2012

Audi A1 e-tron

Audi e-tron

Audi has apparently pulled the plug on its pending electric vehicle projects. CAR Magazine reports that Audi cancelled its electric A2 and A1 e-tron. CAR says that Audi had concerns about high projected price tags as the main reason for axing two of its pending plug-in vehicles.

The electric Audi A2 concept made its worldwide debut in 2011. The premium-priced urban commuter was to feature an 85-kW, 199 pound-feet electric motor and would supposedly boast a range of up to 125 miles. Audi had set 2015 as the electric A2's potential launch date, but now has decided that the pint-sized A2 electric couldn't realistically sell in volume at its projected price of €40,000 ($49,7620 US).

Similarly, it seems the A1 e-tron has met the same fate. CAR Magazine reporting that production of the overly complex vehicle is no longer in Audi's future plans.

The A1 e-tron featured a Wankel rotary ranger-extending engine and boasted an electric-only range of up to 31 miles. However, Audi determined that production of the complicated system, combined with a potential lack of demand for expensive superminis meant that the A1 e-tron was too much of an investment risk.


· Teq (not verified) · 6 years ago

Such a shame, A1 e-tron had a perfect range extender

· · 6 years ago

Not to worry . . . in another couple of months, the German auto giants will announce another new EV program, build a few hundred more concept cars to tease us and them pull the plug (pun intended) again.

But, yes, really a shame to hear about such corporate short-sightedness.

· Spec (not verified) · 6 years ago

Well I'm glad I never took anything Audi said about electric vehicles seriously. They always seemed like concepts that would never hit the road.

· · 6 years ago

They're smart not doing like tesla, mitshubishi imiev, volt, byd, coda, nissan leaf, renauld fluence, project better place, and lose multi million dollars. Im quite sure that they will do their tcng e-gas project instead and will make money right from the start.

· · 6 years ago

Maybe they have pulled the plug -- or maybe they have not?

This is even odder since VW seems to be still planning on EV's. *Someone* should put the Kolibri battery to use!


· · 6 years ago

Since tesla is doing so bad how come they make profit and so many people happy?
All the cars you mentioned above are awesome, some have but one flaw and that is limited range.
I'm sure you will be able to buy a custom range extender and install it in any car soon and as I suggested at different topics, gas or liquified gas would make a perfect fuel for future range extenders.
They have higher octane number, clean engine of carbon and burn much effectively and cleanly (however they aren't emission free as audi claims). Not to mention they are much better in terms of fuel deterioration.
In my car i have to change petrol in the tank at least every two months or it could damage the engine. I'm sure the same applies for volt fuel tank. But the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) that my car uses doesn't deteriorate so fast, you can keep it in tank for much longer.
Audi could easily keep it's etron, just upgrade the range extender, no multi million dollar loss as you claim.
Same applies for every other EV out there (even gas engines can be rather easily modified to run on GAS, same as my car)
Don't rule them all out just because of your faulty assumptions.

· · 6 years ago

I'm with Spec. I never got the impression that these cars would ever hit the road. It's not like the EV community lost anything real.

GM engineered the Volt's tank to preserve the fuel for up to 6 months. Still not great, but better than the 2 months you assume. Honestly, I think a range extender that runs on anything other than gasoline or diesel is a mistake (in the US anyway). The whole point is that you don't burn the fuel often, but when you need to it is easily available. If I take a Volt 600 miles for a vacation or to visit family, I can easily buy gas or diesel in every town I pass. LPG would not be so easy to find, thus defeating the purpose.

· · 6 years ago

Well the 6 months is nice then.
I don't assume, I have a LPG powered car and 2 months are real max I can keep the gasoline in ( i still need it to start the engine, warm it up and cool the fuel pump)
I didn't know that USA doesn't have LPG widely available (in Europe it's no problem to fill up, you can even find compressed natural gas stations in many towns) but I based my assumption of perfect range extender fuel on audi's research on technical natural gas used as energy storage (for range extenders)
Would be pretty neat if they could even liquify it (much easier to transport and fill it up that way)

· · 6 years ago

On top of all that, one liter of gasoline costs about 1.55 euros and one liter of LPG costs 65-75 cents :)

· · 6 years ago

gorr tends to make overly outrageous claims in his posts, Teq, and I think he's way too dismissive of batteries in general. But I did find his YouTube link to that Audi advert interesting. I do have to chuckle a bit, though, about Audi's name branding of their "synthetic natural gas." Note, also, that they didn't discount involvement in making pure EVs in that video.

Likewise, Neil's link to the Green Car Report piece adds a new wrinkle to the story. Given what Europe is going through right now, economically, it would make sense that Audi questions the wisdom of expensive sub compacts. Fair enough.

I tend to give the German auto manufacturers a hard time on this blog. VW, especially, gets my goat for the multitudes of EV prototypes paraded at car shows and promises of world EV market dominance "soon." One wishes they'd stop the bragging and take just one of their many one-offs and actually build/sell a few.

As with so many others, I owned a VW Beetle back in the day . . . one of the old ones, with the flat 4 air-cooled engine designed by Ferdinand Porsche. It was a marvelous car and epitomized what it meant to have something of quality that didn't also have to be expensive.

I know that German cars are all supposed to be about opulent luxury these days and the manufacturers there today probably shudder at the thought of producing something as simplistic and utilitarian as the old Bug. They've lost their roots, though.

Audi should step back and take another look at their A1 and A2 EV projects . . . simplify what's featured on the show cars: drop the unessential electronic gadgets and leather padding. Make affordable versions of these vehicles for a more competitive price point. Range extenders are cool, but they add cost to a vehicle. Save them for larger cars than these.

And, yes . . . anyone heard anything new about the Kolibri battery?

· · 6 years ago

Well the "Skoda" automaker (part of VW group) promised to put an ev version of Citigo (cheaper version of VW e-up) on the market in 2014. Skoda has a policy of keeping the qualities of VW parts and dropping all of the unnecessary luxury parts, so I'm looking forward to it, especially the price.

The car with ICE is very nice, small but roomy and base costs around 7800 euros

· · 6 years ago

As far as a branded automotive line, I hadn't heard of Skoda before, Teq. This looks very good. Perhaps the problem I allude to involves VW's American division, which would probably never let something like this cross the Atlantic.

First, it would have to carry a VW or Audi badge to be sold over here. Although Toyota finds itself marketing Scion in the U.S. as a sort of funkier and less expensive alternative, I just can't envision VW doing something as bold as this.

Second, the powers that be at VW would nix it on grounds that it's "too small" for the U.S. market. So, then they would spend a lot of extra time and money to make the car larger and heavier, basically ruining the original idea. Three or four concept vehicles later, they lose interest and they're on to something else.

The America division would hate it enough, even if it did carry a VW or Audi badge. But it would be doubly damned if it didn't burn gasoline. VW probably makes the best small diesel engines in the world. But try buying one over here. If VW ever did make a production EV in a compact and affordable package, the American division would certainly put the kibosh on it.

Wish this wasn't the case, but this is what I've witnessed from VW . . .
or, more precisely, their very staid and conservative U.S. marketing department.

· · 6 years ago

@Benjamin Nead,
Skoda (and Lada) were the old Soviet auto manufacturers. Soviet citizens, if they were allowed a car were allowed either a Skoda or a Lada and there were really no choices.
Its kind of fitting the the maker of the Volkswagen (literal translation "People's Car"), what Hitler's totalitarian government allowed their subjects to own, would end up acquiiring the car company that Stalin let his people own.

· · 6 years ago

There are quite a few ironies in regards to the history of these European auto manufacturers, ex-EV1. The irony with Volkswagen was that no civilians actually owned any of those original People Cars while Hilter was in power. Deposits were collected from German citizens, but production of those cars hadn’t even begun when war was declared in late 1939.

The VW Wolfsburg factory, were military kubelwagens and schwimmwagens were built, was bombed in a 1944 allied air raid. Then, after the war, it was part of the British occupied West Germany. The initial momentum for cleaning up the rubble, getting a shattered German workforce active again and actually getting the first civilian cars built at Wolfsburg came from the British Army! Fedinand Porsche, meanwhile, languished in a French prison during the early postwar years and was unaware until 1950 that his People’s Car was even in production.

Finely crafted industrial objects were being manufactured in the Czech Skoda region long before either Nazi Germany and, subsequently, Communist Russia occupied it. I don’t doubt that cars built there today are of high quality. Unfortunately, I think many Americans would be unjustifiably suspicion of a Czech-branded EV. Hell . . . a lot of them are suspicious of EVs with branding they're already familiar with.

One eastern European auto that is trying to make a comeback - as an EV, no less - is the Trabant . . .

The Trabant was an East German product during the Communist era and, by all accounts, the original was a terrible car . . . poorly assembled, unreliable and an eco disaster, with a smoke-belching 2-stroke engine. The irony here is that the proposed new private enterprise version (although I couldn’t find anything on it newer than 2009, so maybe the venture never got off the ground) looks like it could be - or could have been - a nice little no-frills EV econocar. Either way, the much maligned original Trabant lives on with do-it-yourself EV converters . . .

· · 6 years ago

You don't see these car in my country anymore :D they were really really terrible. I think they weren't even made of steel but from some kind of paper.
Anyway, it seems (and is my hope) that skoda is serious about going electric, there already are people that rebuild these cars and provide charging services. Still it's in its infancy but it's good to see progress.

· · 6 years ago

@Benjamin Nead,
Thanks for providing the details on the history. From the skoda's I've seen in Europe, their quality does appear to be improving. Maybe, if they go with an actual EV, they will eventually surpass the mainstream VW? Of course, it will be more likely that if an EV Skoda starts to look successful, VW will kill it, sort of like GM did with Saturn. After all, it isn't nice to provide evidence that the corporate group think is wrong.

· · 6 years ago

Glad you enjoyed my little historical recap, ex-EV1. The credit for the research should go to Walter Henry Nelson, who authored the volume Small Wonder back in the mid 1960s. This was the book that recounted the early history of the VW and I found it a fascinating read in my childhood.

About a decade later, I had my own '64 Beetle with a '66 1300cc engine. A couple of my cab driving buddies had several each and helped teach me how to keep mine alive. Likewise, a couple of girls I dated had them, as well as each of my 3 older sisters. It probably would have been easier for me to make a list of people I knew back then who DIDN'T own one.

Perhaps the longest day in my life was when I had to replace a broken clutch cable in one of my sister's Bugs. Just about any mechanical repair was easy to do on VWs of that period. But rethreading a new 5+ foot long braided steel cable through that tiny tube, all the way back to behind the engine? Man, that was murder.

I know I've mentioned it on this blog before, but one should also check out John Muir's volume How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive; A Manual of Step-By-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot (note the intentional spelling error of "complete" in the title.) The hand-penned illustrations by Peter Aschwanden in that book are also priceless. Even if one never contemplates the overhaul of a single barrel Solex carburetor or really wants to know why the exhaust valve on the #3 cylinder would likely be the first to go on those flat 4 engines, this book is a worthy read: one of the best self-help manuals ever written. As with Small Wonder, it's still in print.

Yes, we need a cheap, simple EV today . . . just like the Beetle of my youth and the Ford Model T of our ancestors. I have high hopes for this one . . .

Teq . . . did you say you live in the Czech Republic? I've got a couple of model airplane friends who live in Brno.

· · 6 years ago

Ferdinand Piëch doesn’t feel at home with electrics, range extenders and hybrids, so he stubbornly refuses to produce them at each decision moment. This will go on and on until Piëch leave and another man comes in to replace him. You just can’t ask an old man to understand new things, no matter how hard you try.

· · 6 years ago

Benjamin, almost :) I live in Slovakia, a neighbor state to check republic. We were once one state and the languages are very similar.

· · 6 years ago

Interesting, Priusmaniac, regarding Ferdinand Piech. I just read his Wikipedia profile and conclude that the man certainly has had his fair share of significant accomplishments over his lifetime. Too bad he's so suspicious of next generation auto motor technology.

Glad to have someone here from Slovakia, Teq. I'm a bit of a history buff and know something about what has happened in your part of the world over the last hundred years or so. I was interested to learn about Skoda EVs and see the Elektramobilsro site. Please keep us up to date with EV technology coming out of eastern Europe, when new developments regarding this comes your way.

· · 6 years ago

Sure will, when I get some free time I'll make a post about a "3D" battery that Czech scientists are developing

· · 6 years ago


(Jumping back a little in the conversation...)
I am not discounting your personal experience with your own vehicles. I don't doubt that fuel goes stale in 2 months' time. I'm sure it would do the same in my Insight. But you do assume that the same will happen on the Volt. This is not the case, since the designers knew from the get-go that gas might be sitting in the tank for extended periods of time. A Volt's fuel will last 6 months or more before going stale. The tank is sealed and pressurized, plus they chose premium fuel for this reason.

· · 6 years ago

Yep I know that now, cool feature and a must, volt's tank was built for that purpose.
Very cool car, but for most people here unaffordable. In US an average year salary is $63,091 and new volt costs 40k, in Slovakia avg year salary is 9012 euros and opel Ampera costs 44500 euros.
So if somebody like me wants to drive around cheaper and spare his environment the pesky emissions the only real option now is getting your existing car to run on LPG. Several times less emissions and much less driving costs.
My current car can now make 100 km for 5.50 euros average.
I tried to do some real Co2 / km count but couldn't figure out how, what i do know that before the LPG modification my cars emission control had 2 numbers, Co2 volume [%] on idle rpm (650-950) of 0.5 and 0.3 on driving rpm (2400-2600).
After the LPG modification the numbers went to 0.014 and 0.012.
It's also very noticeable after I'm done parking in the garage, there is no smell :). Very cool and am glad I spent 1500 euros to modify it.

· · 6 years ago

Many of us in the US are trying to promote Americans to buy EVs so that mass production can reduce the price so that everyone can conceivably own one.
Please do be careful with LPG though, especially if you park in a garage. Since Propane is heavier than air, if your garage is at all below ground level, leaking propane will accumulate on the ground, potentially creating an explosive condition. This is one of the biggest problems with gaseous fuels.

· · 6 years ago

From the sounds of it, LPG is readily available in Slovakia. If this works for you, it can been a decent alternative to gasoline (keeping in mind the precautions ex-EV1 mentions). However, I believe most propane is produced as a by-product of refining petroleum, and thus doesn't address any of the geo-political issues thereof. Either way, it is still a finite resource, and doesn't lead us to a good end-game. Anything with a plug leads us to truly sustainable transportation.

That said, reducing your environmental impact is still a noble goal, and if LPG works for you, that's great!

· · 6 years ago

@ex-EV driver
I know about the dangers of LPG and so do the manufacturers. My LPG toroid tank actually has 8 electronic valves and is proven to be safer then a gasoline (even in car crash) . In states like Austria you can even park your LPG car in an underground garage, but here in our old rusty Slovakia you cant.

This is actually the 1st car that I own and I already turned it green, it's an old skoda fabia with 160 000 kms and it cost me 2500 euros, still i squeezed another 1500 to make it green and economical. It's also pretty safe and fun to drive.
Honestly how many of you were thinking of going green with your 1st car :).
The next step for me is of course getting an EV.
About the fuel itself, I know it's finite and won't be around forever, but here in Europe we mostly heat our houses and flats with natural gas and LPG is a by-product of it. It's also a by product of oil when you turn it to gasoline and diesel (don't know the specifics really). It would be interesting to find out if you cant actually liquify the TCNG gas and power LPG cars with it. Even if you cant u just swap a few parts and boom my car can run on CNG / TCNG and that is an infinite resource.
For any of you interested here is a link of the manufacturer of my LPG system

The cool part is that I'm going to Croatia in 2 weeks (vacation) and I can safely use this trusty car, there are many LPG stations on the way and fuel is cheap. If you took the same journey in a volt, you would actually leave more CO2 behind then me, which brings me to my question, did anybody ever tried modifying volt's engine (or opel ampera) to run on LPG/CNG? Now that would be really awesome :)

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