Audi's Plans Hybrid Lineup, Prepares To Launch A3 Sportback E-tron

Jun 27, 2014 03:03 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Looking to keep pace with rival BMW, Audi has outlined plans to launch at least four hybrid vehicles in the near future.

The plug-in hybrid offensive will kick off with the A3 Sportback E-tron, which should start delivering in Europe this month, Automotive News reported. The new A3 is expected to arrive in China in the first half of next year and in the U.S. in the second or third quarter of next year.

"Plug-in hybrids are electric vehicles for everyday driving, exactly what our customers are asking for," said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, as quoted by Automotive News.

Stadler said Friday that Audi will release more plug-ins following the A3 Sportback E-tron.

"We strongly believe in plug-in hybrids and we will add a new model each year, beginning with the Q7 next year, followed by the A6 long-wheelbase sedan for China and the A8," said Stadler, as quoted by Automotive News.

The first Audi plug-in hybrid offering has a 30-mile battery range driving on pure electricity and then has a 373-mile range when switched to the gas engine.

"Plug-in hybrids are fully integrated in our platforms and production process, so we are beginning with the A3 E-tron in Germany, but the same technology could be applied to the production lines we have in China and in Mexico," Stadler said.

The A3 Sportback E-tron is powered by a 150-horsepower 1.4-liter direct injection turbo gasoline engine and has a 102-horsepower electric motor within a six-speed dual clutch transmission. The hybrid's maximum speed is 137 mph in hybrid mode and 80 mph in pure electric mode.

Stadler didn't detail exact sales projections for the new hybrid models but said the segment could make up a large part of Audi sales in the next six years.  

"Plug-in hybrids could account for 10 percent to 20 percent, even 40 percent of the 2 million units we plan to build annually by 2020. It will be our customers who decide, and we are ready to satisfy their demand," he said.

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