German car maker Audi, the luxury division of Volkswagen, has launched its first electric vehicle (EV) pilot program in the United States.
The A3 e-tron pilot program will test a plug-in electric version of Audi A3. Already a successful seller in its gasoline and turbo diesel (TDI) configurations, the A3 is the company’s entry level sedan (the 2012 A3 starts at $27,270). The pilot program will run through the end of the year. It will test cars in San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Denver, allowing Audi engineers in both the U.S. and Germany to monitor how the EV holds up in a growing U.S. market.
The A3 e-tron boasts a battery range of 90 miles, and its 26kw lithium-ion battery powers an engine with 199 lb-ft torque and can get reach speeds of 90 mph. All of this, the company says, without losing the space, comfort, and luxury the A3 is known for.
“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 Jeff Curry, e-mobility and sustainability strategy lead at Audi of America. “We will integrate the data generated from this program into the launch of a range of Audi e-tron models for American drivers.”
With this announcement it seems clear that Volkswagen is testing the EV waters in the U.S. Just last week, the company shipped 20 of its eGolf prototype vehicles to Belmont, Californina for testing at its Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL).