Audi is looking to the future in China – and not just with its sales: this week at the Beijing auto show, it pulled the wraps off of its newest plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the A6 L e-tron Concept.
Powering the A6 L e-tron Concept is a parallel hybrid system that combines a 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder rated at 211 hp and a 95-hp electric motor. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack allows provides for brief runs without the aid of the gasoline engine. In EV mode, Audi says the A6 L e-tron can travel at 37 mph for roughly 50 miles before switching to the gasoline engine. Depending on the route planned, drivers can choose to operate the car on electric power only, engine only, or a hybrid blend of the two powertrains.
The most striking differentiating feature of the e-tron concept from the standard A6 L is a revised single-frame grille, which – like Audi’s other e-tron concepts, boasts thin cross-bars and covered lower air intakes, a trademark of Audi's e-tron line. Large, 21-inch, zillion-spoke turbine wheels add a dose of aggression to the PHEV's stance, while the rear diffuser brightwork downplays the exhaust tips.
Compared to the short-wheelbase A6 we see here in the U.S., the A6 L receives a four-inch stretch in wheelbase and overall length, allowing for an increase in rear seat legroom. The A6 L e-tron Concept uses the same body and interior as the A6 L sold in the Chinese market. That car retails for RMB 383,000 (roughly $61,000) in China.
Audi has yet to announce if the A6 L e-tron will enter limited or series production, but if it does, it wouldn't be any earlier than 2014. Next year, the automaker will produce a limited run of the R8 e-tron sports car, followed in 2014 by the A3 e-tron, the brand's first full-production “New Energy Vehicle.”