In observing the evolution of luxury green car strategies, the paths taken by rival automakers BMW and Audi both have been long, producing many concept studies under their respective i and e-tron monikers. The most current telling of this tale is at Auto China 2012 in Beijing – BMW, with its eDrive announcement we already covered, and Audi, with word of the new A6 L e-tron concept car.
Audi has been testing out green car concepts under this e-tron labeling since late 2009. Since that original e-tron concept was unveiled, we’ve seen the German auto brand upgrade the original design study, followed by the A1, Spyder, A3 and R8. As it stands right now, the A1 and A3 are being field tested, with the latter also being likely production ready by 2014. The R8 will also see what Audi says is a “short production run” later this year.
With the e-tron focus squarely on electric drive systems in traditional electric cars or plug-in hybrids, the Audi A6 L is being seen as a concept study designed to fulfill Chinese luxury car needs. With its first e-tron technology study in the luxury class, Audi said, the company is showing what it terms “a locally produced New Energy Vehicle” might look like.
The A6 L, according to Audi, brings together “a 2.0 TFSI that outputs 155 kW (211 hp) and an electric motor with 70 kW (95 hp) peak power. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is located in a collision-protected space at the rear of the vehicle. In electric mode, the Audi A6 L e-tron concept can travel up to 80 km (49.71 miles) at a constant speed of 60 km/h (37.28 mph).”
The technology under the hood allows the vehicle to be operated only with the engine, only the electric drive or in a hybrid mode. It can also recover energy for the battery during braking, or it can boost output power for strong acceleration by combining the two drives.
As this is a luxury car study, few details on the interior have been left unattended to. An arc under the windshield – the wrap-around – surrounds the driver and front passenger, said Audi, and as far as the controls go, a powermeter replaces the tachometer. Its pointer indicates total drive system power on a scale of zero to 100 percent, while what is coined an “energy flow indicator” tells the driver the current operating mode and which hybrid drive components are currently active.
Other whiz-bang features on the A6 L include ventilation and massage seat functions, an automatic air conditioning system with air ionizer, active lane assist, night vision assistant and a hard-drive navigation system that can be controlled by touchpad character input.