2011 Audi A1 and Justin Timberlake on LA photo shootEnlarge Photo
It's going to take Audi a long time to live down its U.S. chief's infamous quote that anyone who buys a Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is an "idiot."
But after sticking to diesel for a long time as its sole green strategy, Audi is now storming ahead into smaller, hybrid, and electric cars with a fierce vengeance, seemingly determined to make up for lost time. Here's our roundup, from smallest to largest.
Audi A1 teased ahead of 2010 Geneva Motor ShowEnlarge Photo
2011 Audi A1 design previewEnlarge Photo
2011 Audi A1: Modern mini-car
Audi has been teasing its new A1 mini-car with an extended campaign of images, videos, and details dribbled out every few days before its launch at this spring's Geneva Motor Show.
The first concept to preview the A1 dates was the Metroproject Quattro hybrid concept, which dates all the way back to the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. It was followed by the Audi A1 Sportback Hybrid Concept at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.
The Audi A1, a premium hatchback that competes with the Mini Cooper in three-door, five-door, and convertible styles, will be sold in Europe starting this summer. In December, photos showed Audi's brand spokesperson Justin Timberlake with an A1 in Los Angeles.
U.S. sales possible
Though U.S. sales plans aren't confirmed, the photos spurred speculation that U.S. A1 sales could help Audi meet stringent gas-mileage requirements in the years to come, as well as achieving its goal of beating both BMW and Mercedes-Benz in global sales by 2015.
In Europe, Audi will offer both gasoline and diesel engines from 1.2 to 1.6 liters, along with a mild hybrid version that could return gas mileage of 50 miles per gallon.
The A1 would likely have a 1.6-liter gasoline engine for the U.S. market, perhaps along with a high-performance "S" model producing as much as 200 horsepower.
Below is a video on A1 quality by Werner Zimmermann, chief of Audi quality control. “The smaller size of the vehicle," he says, "does not mean that customers expect anything less than they always do from an Audi.” Earlier Audi A1 videos can be seen here and here.