Plug-In Car Review, a Week At a Glance 8-16-13

Audi A3 e-tron

Audi finally plugs the plug, Ford lowers expectations, Ford Fusion Energi test drive, Honda NSX revealed and Tesla drops the mirrors.

Audi A3 e-tron
Seems like the Audi A3 e-tron is back on again

Ford Lowers MPG Expectations.  Ford cheerfully told us last year how its C-MAX and Fusion Hybrids achieved an even 47 MPG across the board, approved by the EPA agency.  Turns out that was a little optimistic.  CarNewsCafe has test driven both Hybrid and Energi versions of both C-MAX and Fusion and found real life scenario fell slightly short of expectations.  Who’s to blame?  A government agency that gives you an average or an enthusiastic carmaker?  Who cares, but next time remember that it is an average and doesn’t represent much but just that — an average.  In the meantime, Ford will give you a refund of $550 to $325 if you leased a C-Max hybrid.

Honda NSX — Fully Charged.  The original Honda NSX was a great car and rightfully so, a collector’s item by now.  The new NSX goes beyond and further with a stunning new redesign, which by the way has to be seen in real life than just on pictures.  Still using a mid-mounted V-6 direct-injected engine powering Acura’s Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, or SH-AWD hooked to a battery pack.  Want to know more?  So do we…

Audi Plug-In — Back Again.  Audi’s back and forth dance with plug-in vehicles has been entertaining to put it mildly, frustrating to put it straight forward.  Starting with a complete rebuttal of how there is no future in battery operated vehicles in 2008 to a stunning all-electric R8 e-tron the following year, that eventually saw a hybrid platform, then a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), with copious amount of test drives but no real production decisions in sight.

Sources at Audi confirm the old guard was not interested in pure electric operated cars after spending so much on diesel technology, rightfully so.  However, the new change of guard and new officers realized that having spent so much on R&D for this electric e-tron made no sense leaving it on the back burner when arch-rival BMW is releasing its all-electric i3.  So, it is with great pleasure to once again announce that Audi is this time again serious about producing an A3 plug-in hybrid next year, followed by an A4 the following year.  So far, the A3 PHEV would most likely use either the company’s 2.0-liter, pushing out 220 HP, or the 180-hp 2.0 L diesel (don’t hold your breath on that one), or even the 250 HP, 3.0 L supercharged V-6.  At least, that is the news of the day from Audi.  Seriously Audi, we don’t care either way, just make up your mind.

Tesla Drops The Mirrors.  Anyone seen that one coming?  Anyone sees how far Tesla is pushing the envelop?  There are two things carmakers never tread upon, removing mirrors and hiding the back wheels inside the body of a car.  Why?  People are used to things the way they are, even if they don’t really care about them specifically, at least aesthetically.  Mirrors are not pretty.  They stick out and have to be seriously streamlined.  All of this can be replaced with modern technology, i.e. onboard cameras.  That is what Tesla is hinting at doing.  As far as streamlining the back wheels into the body?  Still a no, no we guess.  Too bad because it would smoothen out much aerodynamic disturbances.

That’s it for today.  Stay tuned for more as we try to catch our breath.

Nicolas Zart
Born and raised around classic cars, it wasn't until Nicolas drove an AC Proulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news about those amazing full torque electric vehicles, he started writing about this amazing technology and its social impacts in 2007. Today, Nicolas covers renewable energy, test drives cars, does podcasts and films. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he made in those industries. His articles are also published on Teslrati, CleanTechnica, the Beverly Hills Car Club and Medium. "There are more solutions than obstacles." Nicolas Zart