It looks as if Audi are planning to bring the Audi A1 e-tron – a range-extender, plug in hybrid with single-pot Wankel motor – to market by 2014.
As anyone who follows motors shows will know, Audi has been busy churning out electric Audis under the e-tron moniker for the last year or so. We kicked off with the Audi R8 e-tron at Frankfurt in 2009, followed by the Audi R4 e-tron at Detroit at the start of this year.
Both those e-tron concepts – and the Audi e-tron Spyder from Paris in September – are about as practical as the Tesla for everyday use for normal folks. They’re halo projects; designed to show what can be done. But Audi has built one e-tron concept that does make sense – the Audi A1 e-tron.
The A1 e-tron is a plug-in range extender with a small Wankel engine in the boot which cuts in and charges the batteries after the initial charge – good for around 30 miles – runs out. It’s the most practical and elegant hybrid solution for small cars, and we’re sure it’s the car Auid will bring to the market.
Franciscus van Meel – Audi’s ’Manager for Electric Mobility’ – has been telling Autoweek that Audi aim to be “...leading premium seller of electric vehicles” and that they intend to debut a plug-in hybrid by 2014. There was no specific mention of the A1 e-tron, but we can see no sensible business plan in anything else that’s currently in the public domain.
The A1 e-tron concept used a 45kW electric motor (although that can peak at 75kW) mounted under the bonnet with a single-pot Wankel engine running at a constant 5,000 rpm in the boot, with a lithium ion battery pack with a 12 kilowatt-hour capacity sitting under the back seats ahead of the Wankel engine.
In concept form the Wankel range-extender engine only added 125 miles to the range, but that’s because the A1 e-tron only had a 2.5 gallon tank. Make the tank a ten gallon one and you’d have a range – if you need it – of 530 miles.
A real alternative to an ICE car, and a sensible way to make the most of electric propulsion.