A variety of efficiency-minded Audi plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models will debut in the coming months. The German luxury automaker will launch new PHEV variants of the Q8 and Q3 crossovers as well as the A3 compact sedan later this year or in early 2021 – though none have been confirmed for the Canadian market.
While Audi did not confirm these models' specifications, the automaker currently has two different PHEV powertrains in production: one based around a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder and another based around a twin-turbo 3.0L V6. Both powertrains have an electric motor integrated into the automatic transmission and a lithium-ion battery installed underneath the trunk floor, which work in conjunction with the gasoline engine to provide thrust. The system output for Audi PHEV models with the four-cylinder engine (A6, A7 and Q5) is 367 hp, while the V6 models (Q7, A8) are good for 456 hp.
It seems likely the future Audi Q8 PHEV will feature the more powerful V6 hybrid powertrain given its larger stature, while the A3 and Q3 are likely to receive the 2.0L setup.
On the more generous European test cycle, Audi’s current PHEV models can travel up to 59 kilometres on electric power alone. All except for the Q7 have a 14.1 kWh battery pack, with the full-size crossover receiving a larger 17.3 kWh pack. Connected to a 400-volt 7.4 kW AC charger, the 14.1 kWh battery will take around 2.5 hours to fully charge. On a 230-volt household outlet, the battery will fill in around 6.5 hours. These are European figures; North American charging times have not been released.
So why buy a plug-in Audi over an internal combustion engine model? Audi says the "combination of a conventional internal combustion engine and an electric motor" enables "locally emission-free driving and low overall consumption." Put simply, these PHEV powertrains allow customers to drive around on electric power for most journeys in town, helping to reduce local emissions in city centres, but they can still refill at a gas station like any other combustion vehicle and offer better fuel economy than their gas-only counterparts.
Look for the PHEV versionsof the Audi A3, Q3, and Q8 to debut in the coming months. It's currently unclear which of these vehicles will arrive in Canada or when they may go on sale here.