The Audi e-tron concept car will go into production in 2012.

The confirmation that the concept will be built was given by Audi chairman Rupert Stadler during an interview with autocar.co.uk.

Hi-res pictures of the new Audi e-tron

"Electric power will also give Quattro more possibilities, such as powering the rear axle like in the A1 concept, or four wheels in motors like the e-tron," he said. "In fact, we want to launch a production e-tron in small volumes at the end of 2012."

At 4.26m long and 1.9m wide, the e-tron is shorter and wider than a Boxster.

It's not clear if it will be built as a stand-alone model or with its technology applied to an existing or new model. Its existence suggests the possibility, after VW’s takeover of Porsche, that a platform-sharing deal with Audi is imminent, and that a compact two-seater is another potential outcome.

Because the e-tron’s electric powertrain is clothed in a sports car shape, it has also been suggested that it shows Audi’s intention to introduce an electric powertrain from the top of its range downwards.

That means it is more likely to appear in a sexy model, such as a small sports car or the A8 flagship, than the forthcoming entry-level A1 or Golf-based A3.

The powertrain for the e-tron features four electric motors - one pair at the front and another pair on the rear axle.

Total available power is 313bhp and torque is an astonishing 3319lb ft - around 10 times that produced by the V8-engined R8. Performance is brisk; 0-62mph takes 4.8sec, 37-75mph takes 4.1sec and the top speed is 124mph.

The 470kg lithium ion battery sits at the front of the e-tron to help achieve a 42 per cent front/58 per cent rear weight distribution. Storage capacity is 42.4kWh, so Audi claims an impressive range of 154 miles.

The chassis is a new version of Audi’s alloy spaceframe and the body is a lightweight composite, which contribute to a kerb weight of 1600kg.

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