2009 Audi R8 e-Tron Concept
The Volkswagen family is growing by leaps and bounds today. Not only is Porsche planning to expand its lineup to include a "bottom-of-the-range" vehicle priced "significantly" below the Boxster, but also Audi has confirmed that it's moving the recently revealed e-tron EV concept into development.
The news comes from Audi of America’s Johan de Nysschen, and it's somewhat of a surprise. When the Audi e-tron debuted in Frankfurt last month, the company had nothing to say about the concept's potential future in the Audi lineup. Frankly, it looked as if the closest the e-tron might come to production would be as a virtual model headlining the Vertical Run videogame on Sony's PlayStation Home. However, de Nysschen now expects to see working prototypes on the tracks within 24 months.
The e-tron is powered by a lithium ion battery pack, which drives four electric motors. Fully charged, that battery pack delivers a range of about 154 miles. There's no extended-range option as of yet, but one could be added as the vehicle moves through the development process. (If you're interested in more tech specs -- and you should be -- John Voelcker has full details from the initial unveiling.)
The e-tron coupe is a little bigger and obviously a lot snazzier than some of the EV's we've seen/heard about in recent weeks, like the Nissan leaf, the annoyingly punctuated Volkswagen up!, and the potential Toyota iQ EV. If it were to roll out today, the e-tron would land at the higher end of the EV market, targeted at the same well-heeled EV drivers who might otherwise drive, say, a Tesla.
The final version of the Audi e-tron won't appear in showrooms for another three years (i.e. around the end of 2012 for the 2013 model year), but we're already looking forward to it. It's got great looks, loads of power, and the range, while not what you'd get with a hybrid, is still very good for a fully electric vehicle. And hey, with those new U.S. emissions regulations looming, adding an EV to Audi's lineup seems like a smart move, right?
[AutoNews, sub reqd]