Audi Cans Electric A2 City Car, A1 E-Tron: Report

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Audi A2 Concept, Frankfurt Motor Show, September 2011

Audi A2 Concept, Frankfurt Motor Show, September 2011

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Audi has demonstrated a vote of little confidence in electric cars by revealing it has canceled plans to produce the all-electric Audi A2, and the range-extended A1 e-tron.

CAR cites Audi's concerns that the projected 40,000 Euro price tag--just under $50,000--would make the project unviable for the low sales volumes it would likely attract.

The A2 concept was first revealed at last year's Frankfurt Auto Show, where it spearheaded a range of Audi electric vehicles including the A1 e-tron, the closed and open-roof Urban Concepts and the R8 e-tron.

Partly inspired by the 1999 Audi A2, a forward-thinking aluminum-bodied subcompact, the electric A2 concept was set to use a 114-horsepower electric motor and offer a 125-mile range. Styling wasn't too dissimilar to the distinctive original A2, but it featured laser head- and tail-lights and turn signals that ran down the entire length of the car.

Audi A1 e-tron Concept

Audi A1 e-tron Concept

Enlarge Photo

Also disappearing into the ether is the A1 e-tron, based on Audi's European sub-A3 offering. Audi cites the small profit margins on cars like the A1, and the poor state of the European market, as reasons for its demise.

The innovative vehicle previewed the use of a Wankel rotary engine mounted below the trunk floor. This made the e-tron a range-extended vehicle, supplying extra power should the car's battery pack run down. The car was said to offer a 30-mile electric range, and a combined range of 155 miles.

Audi hasn't revealed what will become of the 20-strong lease fleet undergoing testing in Munich, but we hope they'll avoid an EV1-style fate.

It isn't clear whether Audi still has plans to produce the small Urban Concepts, nor an electric version of its R8 supercar--but judging by the latest cull, we're not holding our breath.


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Comments (22)
  1. I read an article that BMW is similarly concerned with it's i sub-brand. It's all thanks to the European dept crisis, they're cutting back so innovation is going to have to wait sadly.

  2. VAG always was a vocal skeptic of plug-ins and now that EV sales from Nissan and GM haven't really taken off they probably feel it's safe to shelve what was probably just contingency plans. Wonder what will happen to the EVs they were planning under the VW brand.

  3. Guess they finally remember that it is a car for idiots per johan de nysschen.

  4. Well, good comment and I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that Mr. de Nysschen left Audi this week to become President of Infiniti. Let's see what happens with Infiniti's development since I don't think parent company Nissan (well, R-N) will tolerate any anti-EV/hybrid comments since nobody is tied to EVs more than Nissan and Renault. Well, I mean among established OEMs that also make ICEs, of course.

  5. The BMW 'report' by Automobile Magazine was unconfirmed and claimed that BMW is temporarily shelving the i4 and i5 but the i3 and i8 will proceed as planned with the i3 launching next September. However they got the i3 production numbers so grossly wrong I wonder if they really have anything right. Just last week BMW announced a world tour for the i3 & i8 that starts in Rome next month and will continue until next spring.
    Audi hadn't put anywhere near the investment into their EV program as BMW has so it's much easier to back out. BMW already built a carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Wa and has invested nearly a billion dollars to re-tool their Leipzig plant to make their EV's. It's really too late to back out now even if they wanted to.

  6. Thanks for the update.

  7. What I found really funny was Automobile claimed BMW was backing off their production estimate of 100,000 i3's per year. That's ridiculous. BMW has never claimed they would sell 100,000 i3's per year, they could never even make that many in the first place. They have, on many occasions said they hope to sell 30,000 per year worldwide. It's been printed everywhere so if Automobile is saying they are backing off there production estimates of 100,000 per year, they obviously have no idea why they are talking about. The EV folks at BMW here in the US know nothing about any backpedaling and are in fact beginning to ramp up for the i3 launch next year.

  8. I really look forward to seeing what BMW can accomplish with the i3. The ActiveE is surprisingly efficient for such a heavy conversion car, so I expect great efficiency from the carbon-fiber i3.

    100,000 EVs a year would be quite stretch at this point in time. Even shipping 30,000 would be impressive.

  9. good to see that American Car makers are not the only "compliance" minded manufacturers on the planet

  10. Very sad the A1 e-tron has been shown the door. I thought of all the e-tron concepts the A1 had the most potential with it’s smooth micro-Wankel adding long haul ability to the BEV city car. A shame the best Audi had to offer was deemed not good enough.

  11. The Wankel is smooth running but its also dirty and not fuel efficient, a poor choice so it was probably always just a concept or PR exercise.

  12. The adoptability of EVs at this early, very pricey stages of the electric car revolution will not be affected in any measurable degree by how many automakers decide to build money-losing vehicles. Since sheer manufacturing economics dictates converting existing gas powered cars on the same assembly lines, the EVs produced will merely be conversions, which is what all of them now are, sans the Tesla Model S. They do NOT represent the future architecture of electric vehicles. Therefore they wouldn't even
    help the automaker much in the days ahead when EVs will be mass produced when lower battery prices arrive. Current EV automakers will not be helped by additional competition for what is a small consumer demand.

  13. @Kent: Your point may be correct, but the Nissan Leaf can hardly be called a "conversion" of any other model. Nor can the upcoming BMW i3. Tesla is hardly the only manufacturer building dedicated electric vehicles.

  14. Kent how is the Leaf and Volt like a conventional car converted while your beloved and much touted Tesla model S isn't? Maybe you could educate me in detail.

  15. This is off topic, but potentially VERY important : Washington State University researchers claim to have created a battery with three times the capacity of current li ions, using nanowires of tin. Very early, but they claim they can commercialize within 12 months(!!!) and that the batteries also can recharge super fast and endure many times the number of recharges of current li ions. If this also means batteries two or three times cheaper, then that's the end of the gas powered vehicle. Stay tuned.

  16. Thanks for the info. Always very interested in batteries. This is another anode improvement, there have been several. The anode improvement can only be fully realized if a matching cathode can be found. Basically making one portion of the battery 3x better really only results in 33% improvement on the overall battery. (no improvement on packaging or cathode). Another super anode is from Clemson University is based on algae. It boasts 8 times improvement, but does not have high charge/discharge rates.

  17. Since better anodes need to be paired with better cathodes to be effective maybe improving the electrolyte is the way to go? According to MIT's Technology review small startup in Colorado called Boulder Ionics is developing new ionic fluids that could

    " improve the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries, the kind used in electric vehicles and mobile phones; and they could help make rechargeable metal-air batteries practical. In theory, such batteries could store 10 times as much energy as conventional lithium-ion batteries".


  18. Also, I have also read that nano-wire Li/ion technology will allow energy densities to increase by as much as 2 times what the best batteries offer today. So it will allow relatively small battery packs to allow for as much as 150+ miles of driving range and due to the higher energy density would require less materials to manufacture and hopefully will allow a lower cost to manufacture than what the best Li/ion cells offer today. This is good news. Keep us posted Kent.

  19. They might regret this a few years from now...who knows what will happen in the world of oil...


  20. Most people want practical EV's that can be used for more than just city driving. It seemed like the idea of an ultra small stripped down glorified electric golf cart urban commuter car is loosing its steam. Could it be that Tesla is about to release a car that can run with the best gasoline sport sedans and even beat them at their own game?. I am sick and tired of all the gutless ugly Electric micro cars. Its time for real practical EV's that can actually beat gasoline cars on their own merits and not because they are urban commuter only cars that do a disservice to how great an EV can really be. Audi should instead build an Electric A6 sport sedan to compete against the Tesla Model S.

  21. I am sick and tired of all the gutless ugly Electric micro cars...well Mark have you placed an order for the Tesla model S yet?

  22. @Don, No not yet. I am interested in the 160-mile range Tesla Model S but that won't be sold until next year at the earliest. I have talked with my wife about it and she thinks its a nice car from what I showed her it but she feels its too expensive. I have a Hyundai Elantra which has been a real good car. I would like to go green when it comes to driving and I think Tesla has the best product out there. I am interested in seeing what the Bluestar EV will be like. I heard that it will be in the $35,000 range. Right now the Leaf and the Ford Focus EV do not have enough range for my driving lifestyle since I routinely drive over 110 miles at least 8 to 12 days out of the month. I would like a full EV even though the Volt would work great.

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