Audi Announces U.S. A3 e-tron Pilot Program; R8 e-tron Likely to Be a Limited Lease
Audi has initiated a U.S. pilot program for its electric A3 e-tron hatchback. Although the company recently confirmed an R8 e-tron will be available to the public later this year, an Audi representative tells us these electrified A3s will stay in-house; the rollout will be limited to Audi engineers, researchers, and other employees in Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. They’ll get cars for 12 to 18 months.
The end of the program’s timeline matches up with what would be the late stages of development for a 2014 electric A3, which we expect would bow sometime in 2013. (The next-generation A3 will debut later this year with conventional powertrains as a 2013 model.) The A3 e-tron in the pilot program will be similar to the concept with the same name that was revealed last year.
But back to Audi’s validation approach—it differs greatly from recent efforts run by BMW for the Mini-E and the 1-series–based ActiveE. Those programs gathered or are gathering data from customer-leased cars; Audi says it doesn’t involve its customers in research. So what does that mean for the R8 e-tron? We’re told that the R8 likely will be available to an extremely limited number of customers with a closed-end lease.