In simplistic terms, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid will go real far when it needs to go and stop when it needs to stop. The PHEV has now been certified to protect its occupants when they need to be protected. So there's not much more that you can ask from a vehicle.
Despite years of researching any number of standard ICE alternatives, it's becoming clear that different automakers are starting to throw their weight behind their advanced-powertrain technologies of choice. For instance, Toyota is gearing up for its first production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle next year. Nissan continues to preach the gospel of the battery-electric engine. For Audi, plug-in hybrids appear to be the way to go.
Audi has put a price tag on the A3 Sportback E-Tron plug-in hybrid, for which presales begin this month in Germany. To get your hands on one of these little guys, Audi is asking for €37,900, or about $51,537 according to current exchange rates. Of course, the base MSRP doesn't include any incentives, but in Germany, those savings would come from certain annual tax exemptions that apply to PHEVs. Buyers in other countries might have more luck in getting into an A3 E-Tron for less.
Audi is proving that the fresh water flowing through the European Alps isn't just for bottling and drinking anymore. The German automaker struck a deal with Hamburg-based LichtBlick to offer buyers of the Audi A3 Sportback E-Tron a chance to get their electrical juice from all renewable-energy sources. That means all the power going into charging stations can come from hydroelectric power from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Audi could be getting even more diverse with its powertrains for the A6, A8 and Q7, moving beyond offering just gas- and diesel-powered models and adding plug-in hybrid variants of the three luxury vehicles. The report comes from Indian Autos Blog, which spoke to Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi's research and design chief, who confirmed the PHVs.
Audi might have a few tricks up its sleeve for the coming years, with the Brits at Autocar uncovering a pair of patent filings made by the German luxury brand. The first is something we've seen before - wheel flaps - while the second is an evolution of one of Audi's trademark technologies.
When it comes to gearboxes in battery-electric vehicles, the more may be the merrier. That's one theory, and Plug In Cars says that the standard, single-gear EV configuration may eventually go by the wayside as engineers figure out how to better use multi-gear configurations to improve performance and range. It's an argument we've heard time and time and time again, but the added weight and complexity of a transmission means it's not been a popular choice in real-world used.
A little more than a year ago, I drove an Audi A3 E-Tron prototype – an early concept electric vehicle built on the outgoing second-generation A3 platform. While I was impressed with the technology, its 3,800-pound weight, 10-second 0-60 time and 90-mile range will likely put it only mid-pack, at best, among its future competitive set. But Audi promised bigger and better things would come.