Next-gen A3 (Audi E3) to launch exclusively as an e-tron EV [Update]

Audi is accelerating its shift to EVs with a plan to end the rollout of new internal combustion engines by 2026. Instead of variants, it plans to convert some models exclusively to electric vehicles in order to accommodate an earlier-than-expected consumer demand shift toward EVs, and stay its course for an all-electric future. The Audi A3 will become one of the electric-only models in the next generation, as per an Automobilwoche report that was filed in June 2021.

VW MEB platform
The next-gen Audi A3 will likely sit on an upgraded version of the VW ID.3’s MEB platform. Image Source: Volkswagen

The report said that the Audi A3 “will no longer have a successor as a combustion engine.” The Audi A3 is a sister model of the VW Golf, and while Volkswagen plans to continue the Golf ICE for another generation, Audi is charting a different course for the A3. However, that doesn’t mean that Audi no longer needs a Volkswagen model or architecture to support its transition.

The next-gen Audi A3 e-tron (Audi sold a plug-in hybrid e-tron model in the third generation) will likely borrow the MEB platform from the VW ID.3. The RWD/AWD bespoke EV platform will receive substantial changes before the time comes to use it for the fifth-gen Audi A3 family. Andreas Kruger, Head of E-Mobility Series, Volkswagen Group, has confirmed that a significant upgrade for the MEB platform is coming.

Audi MEB models which could include Audi A3 Electric
While a significant upgrade is coming to the MEB for cheaper VW Group models, the SSP platform will eventually become the sole architecture for the VW Group. Image: Audi

Currently, we know from the VW ID.3 Pro S that a range of up to 550 km (WLTP) is achievable with the MEB platform. According to a report from Business Insider, Kruger has said that Volkswagen Group’s goal is to increase the range possible with the MEB platform to 700 km. In addition, the company is also considering increasing the charging capacity from 125 kW to 250 kW to reduce the wait time significantly. As a first step, it has introduced 150 kW charging on variants of the VW ID.5.

Moreover, Volkswagen wants to include bidirectional charging capability, which is a prerequisite for the Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) and Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) applications. Bidirectional charging would also allow customers to charge other EVs with their cars. Thus, a lot could change on the MEB platform before the all-electric next-gen Audi A3 enters the market.

Connection with VW Trinity & Audi Apollon projects

According to a report from auto motor und sport, ‘Audi E3’ is the internal name of the fifth-gen Audi A3 (e-tron) hatchback. The report suggests that the next-gen model may have technical commonalities with the Project Trinity, Volkswagen’s groundbreaking flat, sporty sedan with “high range, extremely short charging times, and revolutionary production (techniques),” due in 2026. Audi has confirmed a sister model of the VW Project Trinity – the Audi Apollon (also a project name), and it may use learnings and elements from the same model for the next-gen A3.

The all-new A3 family could be a highly digital, largely software-based car that allows customers to enable many new features on-demand at any point during the period of ownership. The vehicle’s hardware a customer configures when ordering it will no longer determine a final configuration as such in the future.

Production & Release Date

The fourth-gen Audi A3 debuted in the Sportback (hatchback) version in March 2020, and then the Sedan version quickly followed a month later. We doubt the next-gen Audi A3 would see the light of the day anytime before 2026, but it’s good to know that planning has already begun to shift it to an electric car series.

In an interview with Augsburger Allgemeine, Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of Audi, revealed that an electric successor to the A3 is in the pipeline, Der Spiegel reported. Mosch said that the company will start manufacturing the “electric successors to the current A3 and A4” at its Ingolstadt factory in Germany by 2029. The Audi Ingolstadt’s plant will start making EVs beginning with the Audi Q6 e-tron in 2023. The Audi E6, the electric successor to the A6, will be the second EV to enter production at this site.

2021 Audi A3 Sportback 2021 Audi A3 Sedan
Audi presented the fourth-gen A3 family in early 2020, and so, it may not unveil the Audi E3 before 2026. Image Source: Audi

Audi plans to offer 40% of new models with a pure electric powertrain from 2025 and expand the EV line-up to more than 20 models. Its main long-term goal is to sell ~19 million MEB EVs and ~7 million PPE EVs such as the Audi A6 e-tron and Audi Q6 e-tron by 2030.

Next-gen Audi A3 or Audi E3 FAQs

When will Audi launch the next-gen A3?

The next-gen Audi A3 may debut around 2026.

Which models will the Audi E3 compete with?

The Audi E3 could compete with a range of models including the VW ID.3, Mercedes EQA, and the Skoda Octavia EV equivalent.

Featured Image Source: Audi