Audi Ag, the premium automaker owned by Volkswagen today announced the battery-electric Audi A3 e-tron pilot program in the U.S.

It is the first step by Audi into the expanding U.S. electric vehicle landscape, which is a central component of the discussion expected at the Audi Social Space at TED2012.

The A3 e-tron — e-tron’s not an homage to Jeff Bridges or movies about computer games, incidentally; it’s the name Audi uses for all its electric-vehicle concepts — features lithium-ion batteries and a permanent-magnet synchronous motor.

The vehicle looks like a conventional A3 hatchback except that its usual turbocharged petrol engine has been replaced by an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery.

The e-tron’s kerb weight is about the same as a conventional A3 at 1,590kg and in terms of everyday useability, the boot space with its 240 litres is unchanged. It features a fully electric powertrain with a 26kw lithium-ion battery, and zero driving emissions. Providing a sporty driving dynamic, Audi A3 e-tron has 199 lb-ft torque, a battery range of approximately 90 miles and a top speed of 90 mph all while retaining the full interior space and versatility of the A3, the company said.

The A3 e-tron pilot program will take place in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Denver markets.


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