A fully electric Audi A3 doesn’t generate much excitement, but such a car, the A3 e-tron concept seen here, can provide valuable insight into the status of EV technology within the VW Group. Based on the current Audi A3, the A3 e-tron is powered by a water-cooled electric motor that puts out 81 hp (up to 134 hp in short bursts) and maximum torque of 199 lb-ft. Audi is proud to point out that the electric motor weighs only 143 pounds.
The lithium-ion batteries, however, tip the scales at a whopping 661 pounds. The batteries are located in three places: in the center tunnel where a Quattro driveshaft would normally reside, under the rear seat, and under the cargo area. The latter raises the cargo floor by about three inches compared to that of the conventional A3 Quattro. The batteries store 26.5 kWh—enough, Audi says, for about 87 miles of range. It takes nine hours to recharge via a German-standard 230-volt socket; no word on charge times using 120- and 240-volt U.S. standards.
Waste heat from the liquid-cooled batteries is used to warm up the interior, an efficiency boosting approach, since running the HVAC system is typically a major range killer. That said, an electric heater is onboard to provide supplemental warmth when necessary. An electrically powered compressor handles cooling duties. Since air conditioning also eats up range, Audi is considering alternate means of adjusting cabin temperatures that include an ethanol-burning unit.
Performance is fine, but less-than-impressive compared to regular cars. The 0-to-62-mph run is said to take a leisurely 11.2 seconds; top speed is governed at 90 mph. For comparison's sake, a 1989 Toyota Corolla we tested took 11.3 to reach 60 mph. Choose the powertrain’s Efficiency mode, however, and output is limited to 67 hp and top speed to 68 mph.
There are also Auto and Dynamic modes; the latter unleashes all the electric motor’s fury and allows maximum HVAC operation, while the former turns down the wick a bit on both. The driver can also adjust the level of energy regeneration among four increasingly aggressive settings selected via the gear selector or the steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The concept features a heated windshield, and there is also—of course—an iPhone app to monitor charge and adjust HVAC settings.
Audi says the five-seat A3 e-tron gives a good indication of future series production models. While a fully electric A3 production version is still uncertain, we know that a plug-in hybrid is a sure thing. And you'll be able to pass an ’89 Corolla in that car, too.
Thanks to: Car and Driver