Taking yet another green step down the road to sustainable mobility, the 2014 Audi A3 Sportback g-tron gets its first public showing in Geneva. Showcasing the automaker's CNG drive technology, the A3 Sportback g-tron was designed to operate on conventional compressed natural gas or Audi e-gas -- a CO2-neutral synthetic methane -- as well as on conventional gasoline. The e-gas will be generated produced at a new plant being built in Werite, Germany, using super-green techniques that also have longer-term implications for producing hydrogen that could one day be used to power fuel cell vehicles.

Due to launch in Europe at the end of 2013, the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron is fitted with a modified bi-fuel capable version of the automaker's new turbocharged/direct-injected 110-horsepower/1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. It will carry up to 30 pounds of CNG/e-gas pressurized to 2,900psi in a pair of lightweight tanks located under the luggage compartment. Each is made from a rugged three-layer matrix that consists of gas-impermeable polyamide polymer, carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) and glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) all bound together with high-strength epoxy resin.

Operated in gas mode, the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron has a range of up to 249 miles and can travel another 560 miles on gasoline, giving its roughly the range of an A3 TDI turbodiesel. The system employs a sophisticated regulator that matches the gas delivery pressure to any given driving condition and is also configured to automatically transition to gasoline whenever it senses pressure in the CNG tanks fall below a predetermined critical value. Audi says the front-drive A3 Sportback g-tron's performance is virtually the same on either fuel, with a 0-62 mph run requiring about 11.0 seconds and max velocity reached at 118 mph. In gas mode, CO2 emissions at the tailpipe are an impressive 153 g/mi.

There are currently no plans to bring the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron to America. However, given the increasing interest in using CNG as a potential automotive fuel, it's certainly possible that the technology could well make it over here at some point.


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