Has Audi pulled the plug on the electric A1 and A2 e-tron?

Reports suggest both of Audi’s small EVs have been put on the back burner

By Farah Alkhalisi on June 6, 2012 4:12 PM

Audi has pulled the plug on both the pure-electric A2 city car and A1 e-tron range-extender projects, reports Car magazine. Sources have told the mag that these have “now essentially been put on the back burner while Ingolstadt concentrates on other projects”.

Car cites concerns over a projected €40,000 price tag for the all-electric A2, which had been scheduled for production in 2015, saying that this would hamper volume sales of this model – such a price is simply too expensive for such a small car. It says that with regard to the A1 e-tron, a range-extended EV featuring a tiny Wankel (rotary) engine as a generator, “the complicated development process, combined with small profit margins on superminis and the sorry state of the European market, appear to have put paid (to its) production hopes.”

There has been no official statement from Audi yet on the matter – UK representatives have refused to comment – but it’s worth remembering that we’ve been here before: the A1 e-tron has been on and off more times than a workshop lightswitch, if we believe all the rumours.

A high price tag can be swallowed at the upper end of the car market, however, especially when a low-volume, exclusive supercar is involved, and there’s no reason to believe that Audi will not push on with building the R8 e-tron supercar for sale (in very limited numbers) next year. And in the world of more mainstream motoring, the A3 e-tron trial programme continues in the US.

A fleet of 20 A1 e-tron prototypes is still in action in Munich, too; the trial, a partnership between Audi, energy supplier E.ON, public utility Stadtwerke München and the Technical University of Munich, has been looking at expanding the EV recharging infrastructure in the city, the power grid, usage patterns, communication of data between drivers, cars and recharging stations, and the use of smartphones as a control interface.

This project, called Modellregion Elektromobilität München, has been part-funded to the tune of ten million euros by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development – and as such, will be gathering useful data and feedback on e-mobility.

Audi is thus unlikely to have abandoned its electric plans completely, and is probably continuing to research the market and test its EV technology. Perhaps the A1 and A2 e-trons will serve a similar purpose as BMW’s ActiveE prior to the advent of the i3 and i8: testing the water in advance of the launch of something altogether more adventurous. Remember last year’s urban concept?

Source: Car magazine