Audi A3 e-Tron Plug-In Hybrid 2016 (Future Vehicle Preview)

Written By: EightySix

Audi A3 e-Tron PHEV

Audi has given the e-Tron treatment to its A3 Sportback and it's coming soon to the United States. E-Tron is Audi's ambitious, wide-reaching plan to add electric and hybrid versions of many of its vehicles. The crown jewel, the R8 e-Tron, has been on the verge of production since 2009.

The A3 e-Tron combines a turbo-charged 1.4 liter 4 cylinder engine with a 75 kWh electric motor to produce 204 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It jumps to sixty in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 138. Its electric range is 31 miles, putting it near old Chevy Volt territory.

The 8.8 kWh battery is mounted under the rear seats and does not diminish from the 40 cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are down. The added electric apparatus increases the weight by 275 pounds, but the low placement of the battery in front of the rear axle leads to a well-balanced drive.

When Can It Be Mine?

If you live in Europe, it already can. It launched in the spring of 2014. In the States, you'll have to wait until early to mid 2015. The Detroit Auto Show came and went without a major announcement. The standard A3 sells for $29,900. Expect the e-Tron to go for just south of $40,000.

If you can't wait, you can get the 2015 TDI version, which starts at $32,600. The 150 horse turbo-diesel 2.0 brings 236 pound-feet of torque. Combined MPG is 37. The sedan version won 2014 World Car of the Year for its performance, handling and overall design.

How Green is Audi?

Audi is looking far beyond fuel economy with its e-Tron philosophy. Numerous partnerships make an Audi owner more than just a person with a car. They become part of a family trying to make things better.

3Degrees has partnered with Audi to reduce and offset carbon emissions during manufacturing and distribution of its cars. They work with Wildlife Works to prevent deforestation and counteract greenhouse gas emissions. Through US Landfill Gas, Audi and 3Degrees are capturing methane for later energy use. Methane has 21 times the effect on climate-warming compared to CO2.

The overall intent of the program is to counter the negative environmental impact of automobile production with positive actions. VW and Audi together are investing in conservation projects in California, Texas and Africa.

Audi is also working with SunPower to help customers bring solar energy into their homes. Purchase, installation, management and storage are all handled by SunPower. They also offer zero-down leases. Where better to park your A3 PHEV than under a solar carport with a charging station?

The Audi charger is unique in the fact that it's removable and portable. Put it in the trunk and plug it into a wall where ever you go. You'll be charged up in two and a quarter hours from a 240 volt source, or just long enough for a nice dinner.

The Total Package

Looking at the whole, the Audi A3 e-Tron appears to be one of the most complete plug-in hybrids to date. It's fast with sporty handling. The electric range of 31 miles beats most competitors by 10 or 20 miles. Cargo capacity is unimpeded by the battery pack, making it a spacious and useful hatchback.

For 30-something thousand, it's quite a lot of car. If your driving habits fit within its range, you may spend very little on gas. When the Tesla Model 3 comes out, the A3 will already be here, waiting and improving.

And Audi does so much more than comply. In the modern car world, you either act like you're saving the planet or you're a villain.

Audi is surely one of the good guys. It offsets its carbon emissions with earth-saving projects. It builds green cars for the world and not just for the states that require them. It helps owners power their cars and homes with solar energy. It wants to make an earth-friendly statement with the A3 and every car it makes.

May the R8, Q8 and every other e-Tron hit the market with a flash of sunlight.