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Audi’s new electric car has range of over 600 km

An electric version of the mothballed A2 reportedly drove 372 miles without recharging on Tuesday, but press reports contain conflicting details.

The car itself is described as a "revamped" A2, the four-seater that was only manufactured for six years before being discontinued in 2005; although a fantastic vehicle and a major design breakthrough, the car was not a hot item, partly because Audi marketed it poorly. For instance, although the car has more room than the A3 and less than the A4, the car manufacturer nonetheless gave it the name A2, which indicated to car buyers that this must be the smallest Audi available.

The electric A2 was developed by Berlin's technology firm DBM and power provider lekker Energie as part of the German government's National Development Plan for Electric Mobility; the car reportedly already surpasses the government's goal of an electric range of 300 kilometers for 2015. Audi is reportedly not part of the project and did not know about it. The novel batteries used have an "intelligent" energy management system and a new lithium-metal-polymer design to make them far more efficient and lighter than the previous batteries. Press spokesperson Thomas Reckermann told Germany's heise Autos that only 300 kilograms of these batteries have a capacity of 100 kilowatt-hours, and the batteries -- which are said to have an efficiency exceeding 97 percent -- can be practically emptied without being damaged. But other reports say that the batteries in the car only weigh "around 100 kilograms," a figure that seems a fanciful if we consider that the three kilograms per kilowatt-hour indicated in heise Autos already constitutes roughly a 100 percent improvement over conventional technology.

DBM’s Mirko Hannemann is also quoted as saying that the batteries have a service life of up to 500,000 kilometers, which would also be a good 100% longer than the batteries currently used. Unfortunately, he adds that it takes some four hours to charge the batteries "because the German grid is so out of date," which is complete nonsense; for instance, Germany consistently has only between 20 and 30 minutes of power outages per year on the average, putting it at the top of the list internationally. The charging of electric battery is the simple factor of voltage times amps, which in Germany is generally 16 amps times 220 volts. If you want to charge batteries faster, you simply need different connections with more amps and higher voltage, which are also common enough in Germany and no problem for the German grid -- they are, in fact, common in German kitchens as connections for electric stove/oven combinations.

On this particular trip, which took place at temperatures just above freezing (not good for batteries), the electric car reportedly had an average speed of 90 kilometers per hour (56 miles per hour), though the car can apparently topped out at 130 km/h. Given the confusion surrounding and the general lack of details -- what exactly was changed on the A2? -- the main question is whether this test drive will have any relevance for serially manufactured electric cars. The German car experts contacted by heise Autos did not seem convinced by the reports of this breakthrough, saying instead that they still generally assume that electric cars realistically have a range of no more than 150 kilometers and that this range is expected to increase by 20 percent over the next decade, not 100 percent. (cm)

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