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Audi A1 e-tron detail – it’s a Wankel-Electric

Tue, 02 Mar 2010 00:00:00 -0800

The latest Audi e-tron - the Audi A1 e-tron

Early yesterday we reported that Audi were to bring the third iteration of their e-tron concepts to the Geneva Motor Show – the Audi A1 e-tron. Which makes a lot more sense than trying to make an electric car in to some sort of niche electric supercar, which seemed to be Audi’s aim with the R8 e-tron and the R4 e-tron. Small, urban cars are the only really practical place for an electric car to flourish, and the Audi A1 is a very sensible place to be with the e-tron project.

What we didn’t expect yesterday was that Audi would reach back in to its long history to drag the Wankel engine in to the A1 e-tron. Younger readers will associate the Wankel engine with Mazda, but for us slightly older petrol-heads it’s NSU that we associate with the Wankel engine. And NSU effectively morphed in to Audi.

So we now know that the Audi A1 e-tron goes down the most sensible electric car route – the range extender. And in this case the A1 e-tron utilises a single-pot Wankel engine of just 250cc – hidden away in the boot and running at a constant 5000rpm – to provide charge to the batteries, which power a 45kW motor (although that can peak at 75kW) mounted where you’d expect to find the engine – under the bonnet.

The lithium ion battery pack has a capacity of 12 kilowatt-hours and sits under the back seats ahead of the Wankel engine. When fully charged the batteries will power the A1 e-tron for about 30 miles before the range-extender Wankel cuts in to charge the batteries and extend the range. Audi say the additional range is only 124 miles, which seems odd. Until you realise that the A1 e-tron has a fuel tank of only a couple of gallons (well, 2.6 to be precise).

The range extender is a far more intelligent concept than the Prius type Hybrid. And the A1 e-tron is -¬†minuscule¬†fuel tank apart – a convincing way to go with the e-tron pr0ject. There’s more detail in the Audi A1 e-tron press release.


By Cars UK