Audi A1 e-tron detail – it’s a Wankel-Electric

The Audi A1 e-tron

The latest Audi e-tron - the Audi A1 e-tron

Audi has revealed details of the Audi A1 e-tron concept, featuring and electric motor a a single-pot Wankel engine as a range extender.

Early yesterday we reported that Audi were to bring the third iteration of their e-tron concepts to the Geneva Motor Show – the Audi A1 e-tron. Which makes a lot more sense than trying to make an electric car in to some sort of niche electric supercar, which seemed to be Audi’s aim with the R8 e-tron and the R4 e-tron. Small, urban cars are the only really practical place for an electric car to flourish, and the Audi A1 is a very sensible place to be with the e-tron project.

What we didn’t expect yesterday was that Audi would reach back in to its long history to drag the Wankel engine in to the A1 e-tron. Younger readers will associate the Wankel engine with Mazda, but for us slightly older petrol-heads it’s NSU that we associate with the Wankel engine. And NSU effectively morphed in to Audi.

So we now know that the Audi A1 e-tron goes down the most sensible electric car route – the range extender. And in this case the A1 e-tron utilises a single-pot Wankel engine of just 250cc – hidden away in the boot and running at a constant 5000rpm – to provide charge to the batteries, which power a 45kW motor (although that can peak at 75kW) mounted where you’d expect to find the engine – under the bonnet.

The lithium ion battery pack has a capacity of 12 kilowatt-hours and sits under the back seats ahead of the Wankel engine. When fully charged the batteries will power the A1 e-tron for about 30 miles before the range-extender Wankel cuts in to charge the batteries and extend the range. Audi say the additional range is only 124 miles, which seems odd. Until you realise that the A1 e-tron has a fuel tank of only a couple of gallons (well, 2.6 to be precise).

The range extender is a far more intelligent concept than the Prius type Hybrid. And the A1 e-tron is – minuscule fuel tank apart – a convincing way to go with the e-tron pr0ject. There’s more detail in the Audi A1 e-tron press release.

Audi A1 e-tron Photo Gallery

Cars UK Motoring Directory


  1. David Morris says

    Probably the most significant part of this whole excercise is Audi going back to Wankel engine technology.

    Nice practical little hybrid but the Wankel gives this car a unique marketing twist.

  2. geoffrey helman says

    the new A1 does not look as exceptional or as unique as my
    handsome A2…. the new rear treatment looks pretty ordinary
    and is similar to numerous other makes. maybe the 4 door
    version will be more eyecatching……. also i hope one of the
    new versions will have reasonably high front seats (as in my
    A2) which are easy for oldies like me to access!

What do you think?