Revealed ahead of the Beijing Auto Show, the Audi A6 e-tron plug-in hybrid sedan is light on details but heavy on exclusivity, for sale only in China. At least to start, that is, as Audi will almost certainly bring the lengthened mid-size sedan to the rest of the world eventually. But for now, China gets dibs on this efficient luxury sedan.
Assuming the same 2.0 liter turbocharged gas engine and lithium-ion battery pack that powered the 2012 A6 L e-tron concept (pictured) are used in the production model, expect up to 31 miles of pure electric driving. The combined output for the concept drivetrain was 306 horsepower, more than enough to motivate the extended mid-size sedan, though Audi’s decision to launch the e-tron model in China is a bit of a head scratcher.
Audi is planning to launch a whole line of e-tron hybrid vehicles, and perhaps even an all-electric Q8 to compete with the Tesla Model X. Still, China’s response to hybrids has been lukewarm at best, and while the market is warming up to the idea of efficient and green luxury, the A6 e-tron might find a warmer market in say, America.
Instead, we’ll get the Audi A3 e-tron, which still features 31 miles of electric driving but in a much smaller (and less powerful at just 201 horsepower) package for much larger Americans. Audi is definitely feeling the pressure from Tesla, and I’ve got to question the wisdom of this move, as an A6 e-tron would be a great competitor to the Model S for buyers who aren’t ready to go fully electric.
But they pay the suits at Audi big bucks for a reason, and I’m sure there’s a plan there, somewhere.