According to Curry, the A3′s electric engine is actually lighter than the gasoline and diesel engines in the other A3 models, which will remove some weight from the front of the vehicle. The battery pack adds an extra 500 pounds, but Audi has added a slightly stiffer suspension to offset some of the extra weight from the battery. Unlike other electric vehicles, Audi lets the driver set the amount of regenerative braking, which is adjusted via paddles on each side of the steering wheel. The regenerative braking system sends energy back to the A3′s battery during braking. According to Audi, the A3 e-tron has a top speed of 90 mph and an electric range of approximately 90 miles.
The best thing about the A3 e-tron other than the fact that it looks exactly like the standard A3 models is that there aren’t any compromises in interior room or cargo space. Audi is still figuring out the final pricing for the A3 e-tron, but it’s expected to be priced higher than the A3 TDI diesel, but still under $40k. Unlike other automakers that are only producing a limited number of their electric models, Audi expects the A3 e-tron to be a full production vehicle.
During the drive Jeff Curry provided a few more details about the future of Audi’s e-tron models. The first e-tron electric vehicle will be the R8 e-tron that will be released by the end of this year. The A3 e-tron is still two years away, but when that model is released, the first version will actually be a plug-in hybrid electric car based on the all-new A3. After that, Audi is also planning on releasing e-tron versions of the A4 and Q7 models.