Audi, Volkswagen’s premium brand, has launched a plug-in hybrid for the European market, based on the A3 Sportback.
   The Audi A3 Sportback E-tron will be sold through 410 dealers in Europe, including 105 in Germany. The German retail price is €37,900. A leasing plan sees the A3 at €319 for a 36-month term. First deliveries will take place this winter.
   The vehicle has an 8·8 kWh lithium–ion battery pack for its electric motor with a range of 50 km, but combined with its 1·4-litre petrol engine, it can manage 900 km. The combined power output is a claimed 150 kW (204 PS), with fuel consumption at 1·5 l/100 km (188 mpg Imperial) and carbon dioxide emissions at 35 g/km.
   The A3 Sportback E-tron’s battery is under the rear seats, allowing maximum cargo space, while the car weighs in at a reasonable 1,580 kg.
   Early reports indicate a seamless switch between electric and petrol modes, but some noticeable road noise from the standard tyres and the quiet electric motor.
   Audi plans for every E-tron dealer in future to have a charging station for customers, who can use it even after purchase. For the German market, Audi will offer an installation service where a technician checks the electrics at a customer’s home, makes the necessary adjustments, and installs the charging dock, for charging the car safely.
   Customers can even opt for what the company calls ‘Audi Energy’, essentially electricity generated from hydroelectric sources in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
   Wayne Griffiths, Audi’s head of sales in Germany, says there is high interest among dealers and customers for the new model: ‘The combination of efficient drive technology and a sustainable energy source is really what the market is looking for.’