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Audi releases more A3 e-tron details ahead of Geneva Motor Show

Audi's latest e-tron, the A3 sportback e-tron, is a plug-in hybrid with 156.81 miles/gallon fuel efficiency, demonstrating what Audi believes is the future of mobility.

With the Geneva Motor Show opening later this week, Audi disclosed on Monday more details about the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid. Audi uses the e-tron name to signify their electrified cars, and the company claims to be "working intently to electrify the
drivetrain using plug in hybrid technology." The Audi A3 e-tron will be on display at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in March, sporting a plug-in hybrid drive train and rather nice performance characteristics.

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron has a 0-60 miles/hr time of 7.6 seconds, and in hybrid mode the top speed is 222 km/h (137.94 mph). On the European ECE standard for plug-in hybrid automobiles, the five-door model consumes on average just 1.5 liters of fuel per 100 km, corresponding to an astounding 156.81 miles/gallon fuel efficiency, and CO2 emissions of 35 grams per km. That is a European fuel efficiency rating, not an EPA rating. In electric mode it has a top speed of 130 km/h (80.78 mph) and has a maximum range of 50 km (31.07 miles). Total driving range is 970 kilometers (600 miles).

How did Audi achieve these great spec's in range, speed, fuel efficiency, and low CO2 emissions? It is the plug-in hybrid drive system.

It is a parallel hybrid design, meaning both the petrol engine and electric motor can be mechanically connected to the wheels. The petrol engine is a modified 1.4 TFSI, which develops 110 kW (150 hp) and 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft) of torque. This operates in tandem with an electric motor that generates 75 kW and 330 Nm (243.40 lb-ft) of power.

The disc-shaped electric motor is integrated with newly designed six-speed transmission dubbed the e-S tronic. It blends power from the two drive units, with the electric motor supplying peak torque from around 0 RPM to 2,000 RPM, and the petrol engine peak efficiency in the range of 1,750 RPM to 4,000 RPM.

The lithium-ion battery pack is located in a space-efficient, crash-protected location in the floor, beneath the rear bench seat. The 8.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack is made of 96 cells housed in an aluminum box, and provides the 30 mile electric driving range. It has a liquid cooling system to keep the battery pack in an optimum temperature range.

The 3.6 kilowatt charging system gives a 2-3 hour full recharge time.

For safety reasons, if the belt tensioners or airbags are activated in an accident the high voltage system is automatically disconnected.

The car can be driven in one of three modes: Engine only, Electric only, or Hybrid mode. These modes are selectable from controls on the dashboard. The "D" mode makes the car run especially efficiently, while the "S" mode makes it sporty.

Audi is planning a whole portfolio of remote data services under the Audi Connect name. This will include remote monitoring of charge status, as well as being able to precondition the car.

The A3 Sportback e-tron offers great cargo capacity. With the rear seats in the upward position, cargo capacity is 280 liters (9.89 cubic ft). With those seats folded down cargo capacity increases to around 1,000 liters (35.31 cubic ft).

Audi's A3 Sportback e-tron will provide a glimpse into the future of mobility, as envisioned by Audi. The plug-in hybrid drive train is slated, according to Audi, to play a "defining role in the strategy of the brand."

The A3 e-tron was announced at the 2012 TED conference. Audi is also working on sound engineering to design the appropriate e-tron sound.