Hybrid and other green technologies are becoming all the rage. Audi’s electric drive train technology, called e-Tron, is set to start appearing in showrooms and the company is starting to promote it heavily.
Going green at Le Mans
Audi’s electric version of the R8, dubbed the R8 e-Tron, has been confirmed for production and is supposed to arrive sometime in the near future. In the meantime, Audi has been at work on the e-Tron line and plans to use it as a party piece for its racing division.
According to Inside Line, Audi has fitted one of its prototype race cars, the R18, with e-Tron technology. The R-18 e-Tron quattro uses two electric motors to drive the front wheels and a 3.7-liter, 503 horsepower turbodiesel V-6 to drive the rear wheels, along with KERS technology to capture electricity from braking. Since both front and rear axles are being driven, it thus has four-wheel-drive, a must for any respectable Audi.
Two R-18 e-Tron quattros are set to race with two of the non-hybrid version, the R18 Ultra, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year.
A3 e-Tron making limited debut
Similar to BMW’s pilot program for the electric 1 series, the ActiveE, Audi is rolling out a pilot program in select cities for the A3 e-Tron, according to MotorAuthority, the fully electric version of Audi’s subcompact five-door hatch. Audi is currently carrying out a similar pilot program in Munich, for the A1 e-Tron, though the A1 is not likely to come to America anytime soon.
A select number of drivers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and Washington, D.C., will be granted the ability to lease the A3 e-Tron. While driving, Audi’s technicians and engineers will download and compile data for review in Germany and in America.
The A3 e-Tron’s electric plant is capable of about 136 horsepower, with a range of roughly 90 miles, depending on how it’s driven, before the range-extending gas motor takes over. A 120-volt plug will charge it in nine hours, though a special 400-volt rapid-charging system will do the trick in about four.
All Audis to have electric option within the decade
According to AutoBlog, the first of the e-Tron line to hit the streets is going to the R8 e-Tron. However, since the R8 starts well above $100,000, hardly anyone will be able to afford it. The A3 e-Tron quattro will be released for the 2014 model year. After that, the A4 and Q7 SUV will follow. They are likely to incorporate at least some technology from the R18 e-Tron quattro.
AutoBlog quotes Audi chairman Rubert Stadler as saying that an e-Tron model will be an option on every model Audi makes by 2020.