Audi Goes Long With A6 Plug-In Hybrid
New L e-tron is aimed exclusively at the Chinese market.
Unlike the short A1 e-tron that debuted in Geneva two years ago, the A6 L e-tron satisfies China's appetite for stretched-wheelbase luxury cars. Audi debuted this plug-in A6 at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show alongside other Chinese-only stretches such as the A4 L, BMW 335Li, BMW 530Li and Mercedes E-Class L (as seen in this George Clooney TV spot).
Why stretch a midsize car? In China, extraordinarily high import taxes make already-long cars like the A8 very expensive, plus BMW has been building the 3 Series and 5 Series locally for years. More space, less money, same prestige.
This A6 L features a 50-mile electric range from its 70-kilowatt motor and lithium-ion batteries. On the gas side is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 211 horsepower. Audi did not specify fuel economy or battery capacity, but the car is built as a parallel hybrid, like the Prius, and not like the electrically-driven Chevrolet Volt. Inside and out, it's pretty similar to the regular A6, save for an enormous, fender-scraping set of 21-inch wheels.
Audi is testing the A1 e-tron in Germany and the all-electric A3 e-tron in the U.S., which will go on sale in 2014. The automaker plans to sell several hybrids as early as May, including variants of the Q5, A6 and A8; at least two will be available in the U.S.
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