Next-gen Audi A3 to be Electric-only ‘Audi E3’ e-tron model: Report [Update]

  • Poised to be Audi's cheapest EV worldwide; company has no plans to go below the A3 segment with EVs
  • Sportback (hatchback) model could compete with the MINI Cooper Electric
  • Expected to deliver a range of up to 435 miles as per WLTP
  • Will reportedly debut in 2027 using the advanced SSP architecture

Update: ‘Audi A3 electric successor confirmation’ and ‘Audi A3 U.S. Sales’ sections updated and ‘TopElectricSUV says’ section added.

Audi plans to only launch pure electric models from 2026. Some of the brand’s next-generation cars will be electric-only to cater to the rising adoption of zero-emissions vehicles in key markets like the USA, Europe, and China.

While Volkswagen will introduce the next generation Golf with an internal combustion engine, its sister model, the Audi A3, is going entirely electric. A report Automobilwoche published on June 18, 2021, states that the Audi A3 “will no longer have a successor as a combustion engine.” As Audi did for the A3, it will use Volkswagen Group’s extensive pool of resources for the car’s electric successor.

According to an auto motor und sport report dated May 5, 2022, the next-gen Audi A3 would be an electric-only e-tron model. The electric successor could arrive as Audi E3.

Audi A3 electric successor confirmation

On September 30, 2022, Top Gear quoted Oliver Hoffmann saying Audi will have EVs in all its core segments by 2027. Hoffmann is the company’s BoM member responsible for Technical Development. The A3 (Sportback and Sedan combined) ranked fifth in Audi’s 2021 sales chart, with 179,399 units delivered in the year. So, a pure-electric A3 family should be on its calendar.

Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of Audi, revealed during an interview with Augsburger Allgemeine on December 17, 2021, that an electric Audi A3 is in the pipeline, according to Der Spiegel. Mosch added that the company would begin manufacturing the “electric successors to the current A3 and A4” at the Ingolstadt factory in Germany by 2029. The Ingolstadt plan would start EV operations with the Audi Q6 e-tron by 2024, followed by the Audi E6 (Audi A6 e-tron).

The brand will 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 by 2030.

Design

Audi A3 e-tron (Audi E3 or Audi A3 Electric) rendering
The Audi E3 could feature certain design elements inspired by the Audi sphere and the A6 e-tron concepts, as shown in our render.

Audi hasn’t revealed details about the E3’s design and we haven’t seen prototypes on test yet. However, some design elements can be expected from recent Audi concepts. As previewed in our rendering, the Audi E3 could have split headlights, a feature that’s trending particularly in China, which could be a crucial market for the model. Expect wedge-shaped positioning lights on the top and the low and high beams to be in a separate, rectangular housing above the side air intakes.

The Singleframe grille may not be necessary, but given that it’s an unmistakable signature of the four-ringed brand, there’s no doubt it would dominate the face of all future Audi EVs, with adaptations. On the E3, we have shown a white octagonal piece with concave hexagonal inserts. A deep air intake below cools the drivetrain, brakes, and battery pack, and it features “e-tron” inscription in the center. On the sides, our render features camera-based virtual mirrors and large aero wheels.

Platform

Volkswagen Group SSP modules
The VW Trinity project will use the group’s next-generation Scalable Systems Platform that will be highly software based. Could the Audi A3 electric adopt the same architecture? Image: VW Group

On March 23, 2022, auto motor und sport reported that Audi E3 is the internal name of the Audi A3 e-tron hatchback. The report added that the E3 would have links to the VW Project Trinity, the brand’s sporty sedan with “high range, extremely short charging times, and revolutionary production (techniques),” expected to debut by 2026.

According to an Autocar report dated July 26, 2022, the A3 e-tron (or whatever Audi ends up calling the A3 electric successor) will sit on the Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), which means that fans can expect unified battery cells, a new electronic architecture, and a new OS. SSP will debut in a Volkswagen-branded electric sedan resulting from the Trinity project in 2026 and rumored to be called ID.4 Sedan. It will be a highly modern and digitized architecture for future VW Group vehicles.

Specifications

Range & Performance

According to the Autocar report, the Audi A3 e-tron will be available in single-motor RWD and dual-motor AWD variants. There’s no word on the output figures, but the range will include an Audi RS 3 e-tron, which could have a sub-3.8-second 0-62 mph acceleration time.

Audi would use new battery packs leveraging Volkswagen Group’s new unified cell format in the A3 e-tron. The most range-focused variant could travel up to 435 miles on a full charge. With an 800-volt operating voltage, we expect support for a high-level DC charging input of 270 kW. 10-80% rapid charging could be a matter of just around 20 minutes.

Body styles

The A3 e-tron will come in five-door hatchback and four-door sedan versions, but we only expect the latter in the U.S. market. The report says that the next-gen A3 will be bigger than the current A3 in both versions.

For reference, the U.S.-spec current A3 Sedan measures 176.9 inches in length, 71.5 inches in width, and 56.2 inches in height. The current S3 Sedan has the same width, but its length and height are 177.3 inches and 55.7 inches, respectively. The current RS 3 Sedan has the same width, too, but is even longer and lower, measuring 178.8 inches in length and 55.6 inches in height. The standard car’s wheelbase measures 103.5 inches, while the performance cars share a slightly longer, 103.6-inch wheelbase.

Autocar’s sources who have knowledge of the early design proposals say that the designers working on the next-gen A3 have taken full advantage of the SSP’s packaging solutions. Thus, the future model will have different proportions. Expect an extended wheelbase providing improved cabin space and shorter overhangs, a lower and shorter hood line, and larger wheelhouses paving way for sporty styling.

Audi A3 e-tron/Audi E3 to be the entry-point to the range

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

At the start of 2022, Audi announced that the A1 would be discontinued and the current generation of the Q2 would be its last, hinting that more premium Audi models would be the entry point to the brand. During the 2022 Audi Annual Media Conference, Auto Express asked Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, about the A3’s electric successor and the future entry-point to the Audi range. Here’s what Duesmann said:

Let me say that we are many brands in the corporate group. We are four brands that represent the volume segment in an excellent way. Audi will strengthen the upper range. When it comes to the entry level, I can commit that the A3 or its successor will probably be the entry level.

Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG at the 2022 Audi Annual Media Conference in March 2022

Production & Release Date

According to the auto motor und sport report dated May 5, 2022, the Audi A3 electric successor will arrive in 2027. It’s good to know that the Audi is going all guns blazing towards electrification and digitization across segments! The fourth-generation Audi A3 was introduced in March 2020 and is offered in hatchback and sedan versions. The electric A3 may offer multiple body styles as well for a wide appeal.

Audi A3 U.S. Sales

The A3 isn’t a popular Audi in the U.S., but there is potential. Its sales were up 401% in the first three quarters of 2022 from the same period in 2021. However, with only 7,038 units delivered, the A3 was far behind core Audi models, including its SUV alternative, the Audi Q3 (18,624 units).

TopElectricSUV says

When it arrives eventually, the Audi E3 should be one of the most affordable electric luxury cars from the old continent. While it might be a bit more expensive to buy/lease than the gasoline-powered A3, the the low running costs should make it a sensible choice. Being available in Sportback (hatchback) and Sedan versions, it could suit customers in all hemispheres!

Audi A3 Electric/Audi E3 FAQs

When will Audi launch the next-gen A3?

The next-gen Audi A3 may debut in 2027, purely as an electric vehicle line-up.

Which models will the Audi E3 compete with?

The Audi E3 could compete with a range of models, including the next-gen 2024 Mini Cooper Electric.

What is the expected Audi E3/A3 Electric price?

Audi could price the all-electric A3 at well under USD 40,000.

Featured image: TopElectricSUV’s render of the Audi A3 Electric (A3 e-tron).