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Arguably electric cars are the future of the automotive industry. They promise smooth, quiet, pollution-free driving, but are they ready for primetime? If recent news is any indicator, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
Audi is bringing an all-electric A3 to the U.S. Exciting as that may be, only 17 of them will make their way across the ocean.
At the annual TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., Audi CEO Johan DeNysschen revealed plans to bring 17 A3 e-trons Stateside as a trial to see what type of reaction the car would garner from the public.
The pure battery vehicle uses a 26 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery that provides a range of 90 miles on a full charge at speeds of up to 90 mph. A similar A1 e-tron is undergoing the same testing in Europe, except that the A1 has a range-extending gasloine mated to its electric drivetrain.
Based on these initial tests, Audi will decide between the pure EV or range extended EV as the best option. “We will integrate the data generated from this program into the launch of a range of Audi e-tron models for American drivers,” said Jeff Curry, head of Audi of America’s e-mobility program.
While it’s intriguing to see Audi sending new technology to the American market, it’s also easy to wonder how much data 17 cars can really glean.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]
With concepts like the F800 and F125 Style (shown) teasing us over the last few years, it appeared that Mercedes-Benz was indeed putting together an exotic, lightweight, fuel cell powered sedan.
Now details have emerged that this vehicle, dubbed the Mercedes E Superlight, which will incorporate ideas from both those concepts is headed for production, due for a release sometime in late 2015. The E Superlight aims to take on Audi’s e-Tron and BMW’s upcoming i8 but will be more advanced than either, employing a very stiff and light carbon fiber structure (allowing for pillarless doors, the rears hinged in coach fashion) and possibly a drivetrain and suspension assembly that’s fully integrated into said structure.
In terms of propulsion, the E Superlight is expected to bow with a 150 horsepower fuel cell, driving the rear wheels in conjunction with a 50 hp electric motor, though conventional gas/diesel engines and possibly a plug-in Hybrid derivative are expected to follow suit.
Mercedes has set fairly ambitous production targets for the E Superlight, aiming to reach series production of some 20,000 units by 2017. However, despite extensive company research and development in fuel cell technology, it will likely be a struggle to achieve that goal, since consumer acceptance and lack of progress on infrastructure development remain two major challenges for fuel cell vehicles.
That said, even a gas or diesel powered E Superlight would make for one interesting and perhaps revolutionary intermediate luxury sedan, a car that could perhaps prove a real game changer in the segment.
[Source: Car Magazine]
Audi is reportedly preparing to release its all-electric e-tron drivetrain in an A3-based platform, possibly within the next couple of years or so.
The entry-level hatch is to get 130 horsepower, and 199 lb-ft torque from its under-hood electric motor. Juice is supplied via mid- and rear-mounted li-ion battery packs adding up to 26.5 kWh total.
The front-wheel-drive car should be good for 0-60 MPH in 11 seconds, with a top speed of 90 MPH. While performance is only moderate, a 400-volt charger could replenish the batteries in a fairly quick four hours or less. Charging from a standard 110-volt outlet could take nine hours.
The Audi A3 e-tron is expected to have a low-consumption HVAC system, a new gauge cluster and heated windshield.
When exactly Audi intends to put it on the market is in question. Its top-of-the-range, R8-based e-tron is slated to go on sale in late 2012, and the Euro e-car market is heating up with BMW’s pending ActiveE competitors. The ActiveE 1 Series would be a likely match-up against the Audi A3 e-tron.
Audi‘s E-Tron Spyder debuted at the Paris Auto Show today, and surprised observers by departing from the purely electric setup seen in previous E-Tron concepts.
The Spyder will use a 3.0L TDI V6 and a DSG transmission to power the rear wheels, while the fronts get a pair of twin electric motors. An aluminum space frame chassis helps keep weight low, as does carbon-fiber re-enforced plastic bodywork. With the E-Tron coupe set to go on sale in 2012, it’s possible that it could be joined by the Spyder shown here.
Gallery: Audi E-Tron Spyder
Audi looks set to debut an e-Tron Spyder at this year’s Paris Auto Show despite the poorly translated name. The sketches were originally released on a French website, and from our high-school level knowledge of the language, we gather that…no substantial details are out yet.
Think of this car as the Spyder version of the e-Tron concept – same internals, but with the capacity for people to gawk at your comb over blowing in the wind. We’ll be on hand for its debut, until then, sit tight.
Gallery: Audi e-Tron Spyder
A couple decades ago, Toyota decided to launch their upcoming MR2 sports car in Europe. The MR2 was a good car on its own, but Toyota had a bit of a marketing blunder on its hands when they discovered that MR2 was pronounced “mere-deux” in French, which is similar to merde a not so nice word for doo-doo.
25 years later, Audi looks set to make the same mistake with their upcoming range of electric vehicles, branded as e-Tron. It turns out in French, the word etron is synonymous with merde in the same way that “crap” is to “s**t”.
We’re not really sure what Audi can do about this, having already established e-Tron as a brand in much of the world. Perhaps they’ll create a new moniker for the French market, but it’s a little shocking that with continental European countries in such close proximity, we’re a little surprised that this linguistic oversight went forward.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
Despite previously denying reports that an electric car based off their small A1 platform would be produced, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed that Audi would produce a small electric city car, without confirming any design or technical details.
“Almost certainly, yes, we will have a small electric car. It is being investigated,” Stadler told Britain’s What Car? The first electric vehicle from Audi is slated to be a variation of Audi’s e-tron electric supercar. The e-tron is set to bow in 2012 as a limited production, high-priced halo car.
Stadler told reporters that an electric city car will only be feasible in “three to five years” when the market for such a product matures. “What we then need are customers willing to pay a premium these vehicles demand,” said Stadler, referring to the high premiums caused by the cost of engineering an electric vehicle.
Audi is continuing to demand the auto industry focus on it’s E-Tron electric sports car, with a revised version of the concept on display at the Detroit Auto Show. First unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show and then paraded in front of the media in brilliant tangerine at the LA Auto Show, this new E-Tron not only gets a revised look but also a new powerplant.
The rear-drive E-Tron uses two electric motors (versus four driving all four wheels on the previous concept), making a total of 204-hp and 1,954 ft-lbs of torque. Let it be known, however, that Audi isn’t measuring this electric car’s torque like a normal gasoline engine. Still, acceleration is impressive, with a 0-62 mph time of just 5.9 seconds. This is due, in part, to the car’s low curb weight of just 2976.24 lbs. Impressively, that low curb weight is possible, even when the electric battery weights almost 900 lbs.
In total this revised concept isn’t nearly as large as the last E-Tron with a wheelbase of 95.67-inches, compared to 102-inches for the original E-Tron.
As for the sports car’s range, Audi claims a distance of 155 miles on a single charge, with a charge time of 11 hours through a conventional household outlet.
GALLERY: Audi E-Tron Concept Debut in Detroit
Official release after the jump: