Audi launches A3 e-tron trial program in U.S. cities

Audi A3 e-tronAudi is set to become the latest manufacturer to bring an electric car to the United States, albeit on a trial basis. The A3 e-tron will launch in select markets soon, the company said.

Audi’s “e-tron” moniker comes from its electric sports car concepts, the e-tron and e-tron Spyder. However, the first production electric Audi is a converted A3 hatchback. An electric motor producing 114 hp and lb-ft of torque sits where the petrol engine used to, and a 26 kWh lithium-ion battery provides the juice, enough, Audi says, for a 90 mile range. It will also propel the A3 e-tron from 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 11.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 90 mph. That seems fairly reasonable for a small hatchback, it’s also pretty close to the Nissan Leaf’s numbers (0-60 mph in 10.0 seconds, top speed of 92 mph). Audi’s quoted range may be a little optimistic; the Leaf is only good for 70-80 miles in normal conditions, and it is a purpose-built car with better aerodynamics.

As part of the trial program, A3 e-trons will only be available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Washington, D.C. The program will last one year and will essentially make customers into test drivers. Audi will gather valuable real-world data as each car is driven, and that will be used to design a full-blown production model. “The A3 e-tron pilot program serves as an important innovation platform for Audi to develop greater insight into electric vehicles and how American driving conditions affect use of the progressive technology in everyday life,” said Audi sustainability strategy lead Jeff Curry. Audi is running a similar program in Germany with the smaller A1 hatchback.

Audi is not the first company to do a test-launch before diving into electric car production. BMW ran a similar program for its ActiveE (based on the 1 Series) and Mini E. Honda recently delivered some Fit EVs to Google and Stanford University; the Japanese company also launched its FCX series of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles through a limited pilot program.

According to Audi, the A3 e-tron is the first step toward a range of electric vehicles. “As part of the long-range Audi corporate goal of moving toward CO2-neutral mobility, there will be e-tron plug-in vehicle products exhibiting all of the performance and design attributes Audi drivers have come to expect,” said Johan de Nysschen, President of Audi of America. Are four-ringed electric cars part of America’s automotive future? Buyers who pay the not-yet-disclosed entry fee for an A3 e-tron will be the first to find out. Look for these silent Audis on city streets in the coming months.

Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.

Psychedelic Volkswagen Microbus from Woodstock returns for an encore

With its trippy paint scheme, the Volkswagen "Light" bus became a symbol of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. VW teamed up with the artist who created this rolling mural to stage a comeback in time for Woodstock's 50th anniversary.