By Ronan Glon
Monday, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 5:40 am
 
Consumers in China are increasingly turning towards cleaner vehicles that use less fuel. In an attempt to surf that wave, Audi has just revealed a plug-in hybrid version of its popular long-wheelbase A6 L sedan at the Beijing Motor Show.

The A6 L e-tron concept's drivetrain is made up of a 211 horsepower 2.0-liter TFSI gasoline engine and an electric motor that has a maximum output of 95 horsepower. The motor gets its juice from a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery mounted in the rear of the car.

The plug-in hybrid drivetrain allows the A6 L e-tron to travel for up to 50 miles on electricity alone, provided that it is moving at no more than 37 miles per hour.

The electric motor can also provide the gasoline engine with a boost if extra power is needed. Alternatively, the A6 L e-tron can run exclusively on gasoline.

The car's body is identical to the current version of the A6 L, but it features several e-tron-specific design cues such as the headlights, the grille, a small air diffuser mounted on the rear bumper, and 21-inch rims.

On the inside, the tachometer has been replaced with what Audi calls a powermeter. It indicates the power of the driving system on a scale of zero to 100 percent. A dash-mounted screen tells the driver how much juice is left in the lithium-ion battery and other vital information about the car.

Customers in the market for an A6 L in China are more often than not looking for a car to get chauffered in, so Audi has put a big emphasis on making the rear seats as comfortable as possible. They are ventilated and massaged, and their occupants are treated to an air conditioning system with an air ionizer.

The A6 L e-tron is fitted with an MMI navigation system that can recognize 29,000 Chinese characters. To develop it, Audi engineers based in Beijing took a German infotainment system and adapted it to the tastes of Chinese consumers.

Although Audi has not confirmed this, the A6 L e-tron is very likely to be given the green light for production. It will not be sold outside of China, but its plug-in hybrid technology will undoubtedly be found in other Audi models around the world.