Audi has canned plans to build a production version of its Audi A2 electric car concept car from 2011, according to highly-placed company sources. Inspired by the original aluminium spaceframe A2, the new model was scheduled to go into production in 2015 as both a conventional plug-in hybrid and as a pure EV.

Audi sources told Autocar that “lessons learnt from the new A2 project” would be included in future Audi models, but that plans for the aluminium-framed production model had been dropped. Had it been launched, the new A2 would have been a direct competitor for BMW’s upcoming BMW i3.

The A2 concept used a ‘sandwich floor’ construction, similar to the original Mercedes A-class, which would have been used to store the lithium-ion battery pack. A 114bhp electric motor drove the front wheels and Audi promised a 125-mile range from the battery pack after a four-hour recharge.

Audi’s unexpected move is part of a growing mood in the auto industry that the market for pure electric vehicles is likely to be much smaller than predicted. Vauxhall/Opel recently dropped plans for an EV version of the Adam and sales of the Nissan Leaf in the all-important US market have fallen far short of estimates. Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said he wanted to sell 20,000 Leafs in 2012, up from 9679 in 2011. However, by the end of October, just 6791 Leafs had found homes.