Shanghai LIVE: Audi A6 L e-tron

Developed for China and built locally, the A6 L e-tron can drive 31 miles on battery power alone.

Audi has launched a hybrid offensive in China, epitomized by the A6 L e-tron that debuted in Shanghai.

Designed specifically for Chinese buyers, the new sedan represents Audi's first plug-in hybrid model to be built locally in the world's largest automotive market. The launch follows the imported A3 Sportback e-tron an the standard long-wheelbase A6, which is already built in China.

Like the new Q7 e-tron, the hybrid A6 L pairs Audi's 2.0-liter turbocharged TFSI engine with a single electric motor connected in parallel and mounted to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It is less powerful than the Q7, however, with a combined system output of 245 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque -- good for a zero-to-62 mph sprint in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph.

The German automaker claims the hybrid sedan can achieve nearly 107 mpg, according to China's measurement methods, while the 14.1-kWh battery is said to be capable of reaching 31 miles without firing up the gasoline engine. Buyers can expect to fill the battery in approximately two hours at a high-power station, or in around eight hours at home.

The hybrid management system provides four basic driving modes, starting with pure-electric operation at speeds of up to 84 mph. In the standard hybrid mode, the car automatically chooses the drive type to maximize efficiency. Drivers can also enable a "battery hold" mode that maintains the current charge status, or a charge mode that continues to fill the battery while driving.

The e-tron package is visually distinguished by unique 18-inch alloy wheels and unique air inlets outfitted with LED light guides. The rear diffuser also brings a unique look, mostly concealing the exhaust outlets.

Audi will build the A6 L e-tron through its FAW-Volkswagen joint venture in the northern Chinese city of Changchun, with availability expected sometime next year.

Live images by Ronan Glon.

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