Audi has just announced that they will expand their plug-in hybrid petrol-electric variants to the A6, A7 Sportback, A8 and Q5 model lines.

Reserving the ‘e-tron’ designation for full battery electric models, they are now introducing a ‘TFSI e” badging to denote plug-in hybrid variants.

In an interesting note to show the maturation of electrified drive trains – the TFSI e designation will come in two forms:

  • A comfort model (50 TFSI e) and
  • A variant with a higher output and more of a performance focus (55 TFSI e or, for the A8 specifically, 60 TFSI e).

The TFSI e range will all have an electric-only range of more than 40 kilometres under the new European European WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) test cycle*.

(*Note: Australia still requires the use of figures under the older, and more ‘generous’, NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) test procedure.)

Audi suggests that consumers will normally travel for around a third of their usual route in electric-only mode during day-to-day driving.

However, with careful driving (and a bit of charge planning) – for shorter commutes it should be possible to remain in electric-only mode for most, if not all of daily travel.

On the other hand, if you wish to take advantage of the more performance aspects of the design, to quote Audi:

“The fundamental TFSI e concept brings together a turbo-charged petrol engine with direct injection and an electric motor that is integrated in the transmission. ….. As a result, the electric motor can support the combustion engine during acceleration. The result: high start-off performance and powerful acceleration”.

Regenerative braking is also designed to recover more energy than earlier systems, with Audi quoting a rate of up to 80kW of energy recovery from braking – allowing for up to 0.4g of braking before the hydraulically operated friction pad system is needed.

To support that, an active liquid cooling system is incorporated into the battery pack. (Nissan take note: yet another EV manufacturer seems to think this is a useful feature to have …).

For efficiency, the TFSI e range will also incorporate a heat-pump heating/cooling system.

Battery charging can be at up to 7.2kW – meaning a full charge of the 14.1 kWh HV battery can be as quick as two hours.

Operation of the TFSI e system also supports EV over combustion engine use: on start-up, the system automatically moves away in electric-only “EV” mode; following that, the combustion engine is switched on depending on the drive mode selection.

As to what these are, Audi describe the drive mode selection options as follows:

“The plug-in hybrid models have the following drive modes: “EV,” “Auto,” and “Hold.”

With the operating mode button, the driver can select from these three basic settings which either give priority to fully electric drive, initiate a fully automatic hybrid mode or save power for a later phase of the journey.

In “Auto” mode, the PHEVs use the intelligent interaction of the electric motor and the combustion engine for maximum efficiency.

In “Hold” mode, the drive management controls the powertrain so that the current charge status of the battery is maintained, e.g. for driving later in electric-only mode in urban areas”.

Audi are also backing up their press statement with action: the new plug-in hybrid models will be shown at the Geneva motor show next week, plus they be available for order during the course of 2019. (At least overseas – no announcements for Australia yet).

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