Audi has added to its e-tron series of electric and hybrid concept cars with the unveiling of the A6 L e-tron concept at 2012 Beijing Motor Show. Joining the Frankfurt, Detroit, A1, Spyder and A3 e-tron models, the A6 L e-tron concept is the company’s first luxury-class e-tron concept vehicle. Based on the new A6 L, it is a plug-in hybrid that boasts an electric-only driving range of 80 km (49.71 miles).
Audi chose Beijing to unveil the A6 L e-tron concept as the A6 L, which is produced at its Changchun plant in a joint venture with Chinese automaker, First Automobile Works (FAW), is the company’s bestselling model in China.
The concept vehicle combines a 2.0 TFSI engine outputting 155 kW (211 hp) and an electric motor generating a peak output of 70 kW (95 hp). It can be driven powered only by the internal combustion engine, only the electric drive, or in hybrid mode, with a hybrid control module choosing the best mode to maximize driving range.
An energy flow indicator on the instrument panel lets the driver know the current operating mode and which hybrid drive components are currently active. The display screen also shows the average fuel economy and amount of energy recovered over five-minute intervals.
Audi has also replaced the tachometer with a powerometer that indicates the total power of the drive system on a scale of zero to 100 percent. An auxiliary instrument displays the current charge state of the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that is located in a collision-protected space at the rear of the vehicle.
In electric mode, the vehicle boasts a range of 80 km (49.71 miles) at a constant speed of 60 km/h (37 mph). This is a big step up from the 3 km (1.86 mile) electric-only range offered by the electrified drive systems found in the company’s current Q5 Quattro, A6 and A8 hybrids.
The concept car has a body that is around 10 percent aluminum and is identical to that of the A6 L business sedan, with a 3.01 m (9.88 ft) wheelbase, 5.02 m (16.47 ft) length, 1.87 m (6.14 ft) width, and 1.46 m (4.79 ft) height. A single-frame grille with slender cross-bars and nearly-covered air intakes that are common to all e-tron models visually differentiate it from the production A6 L.
Audi says the use of aluminum results in a body that is around 15 percent lighter than comparable all-steel designs, and that all future Audi models will be lighter than their predecessors. This will be achieved through the use of combinations of lightweight materials, including carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP).
As the first luxury e-tron concept, the interior of the vehicle boasts all of the A6 line’s luxury-class features, including seat ventilation and massage functions, Bose surround sound system, deluxe air conditioner with air ionizer, and MMI navigation plus navigation system with touchpad character input and the ability to recognize 29,000 Chinese characters.
Driver assistance and safety systems include active lane change assist, parking assist, night vision assistance that highlights detected pedestrians, and a pre sense system designed to reduce the severity of accidents.
Although Audi designed the A6 L e-tron concept specifically around Chinese requirements, there’s no word on whether the car will make the leap from concept to production vehicle there or in other markets. However, the company has revealed the e-tron Frankfurt – also known as the R8 e-tron - will get a short production run later this year, while the A3 e-tron will enter full production in 2014. Audi says these will be followed by other “New Energy Vehicles.”