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.

Today the automaker’s green onslaught has gone up another notch with the unveiling of the A3 e-tron Concept at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show. That makes it three new e-tron prototypes or concepts from Audi in the last three weeks alone (the previous being the A5 e-tron quattro and A3 e-tron prototype).

Unlike the aforementioned A3 e-tron prototype, the new concept features the design of the next-generation 2013 Audi A3 body built around an advanced plug-in hybrid drivetrain rather than the straightforward battery-powered electric drivetrain.

The setup consists of a turbocharged 1.4-liter TFSI gasoline engine putting out 211 horsepower and matched to a lightweight electric motor. This electric motor only gets a 20 kW (27 horsepower) rating but Audi claims it’s enough to power the hefty 3,792 pound concept for a distance of up to 34 miles, emissions free. It’s powered by a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery that can be charged using a regular household power outlet.

Working together, the gasoline engine and electric motor accelerate the concept to 62 mph from rest in 6.8 seconds and see it reach a top speed of 144 mph.

To further enhance efficiency, and help the batteries stay charged while on the move, the A3 e-tron Concept also features a regulated oil pump, thermal management and engine stop-start systems, as well as brake energy recovery. A lightweight and fuel efficient seven-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission has also been fitted.

We’ve previously reported that the next-generation 2013 Audi A3 would have up to six different powertrain types, including regular gasoline and turbodiesel models, compressed natural gas models, gasoline-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and finally a battery-powered electric model.

The car is expected to launch in regular gasoline and turbodiesel trims late next year, so you can expect the electric and plug-in hybrid versions a year or two after that.

[Audi via MotorAuthority]


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