[Originally posted on EcoGeek]


Audi showed up at this year’s North American International Auto Show with some impressive hardware. Not just the cars that they are showing, but also the award for the 2010 Green Car of the Year, which was awarded to the Audi A3 TDI at the LA Auto Show. And today, Audi unveiled their E-tron electric car concept, making another major automaker to join the electric vehicle bandwagon.

The A3 is driven by a 2.0 liter clean diesel engine that gets 42 MPG on the highway. The A3 is another example of the new clean diesel that is legal in all 50 states. Last year’s winner was the 2009 Jetta TDI, so clean diesel has certainly arrived as a competitor in the green car field. Other finalists for the award were the Honda Insight hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Toyota Prius, and the VW Golf TDI.

Audi also showed up with its second “e-tron” concept car. (An earlier e-tron concept was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show a few months ago.) While it looks like something a Cylon might drive, it is a powerful 2-seat electric sports car with 45 kWh battery capacity and two electric motors that provide over 200 hp. This gives it a range of 250 kilometers (155 miles). As a sports car, its numbers aren’t quite as strong as the Tesla roadster, but it is likely to appeal to a different buyer than the Tesla.

In remarks today, the company announced that an e-tron vehicle is expected to be ready by 2012. Audi’s strategy for electric vehicles is to skip the ‘mild hybrids’ that use electric motors just as a boost to the gasoline engine and instead focus on full hybrids. Their direction is to prepare for the future when electric drive vehicles are more commonplace. Audi representatives also announced that a full hybrid Audi A8 is to be unveiled at the upcoming Geneva Auto Show.