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Electric motors could soon appear alongside replacement car engines in the range of Audi spare parts available to consumers, with the German manufacturer launching an electric vehicle pilot programme.

It has been revealed that Audi has developed an electric version of its A3 small family car, called the A3 e-tron.

The battery-powered vehicle will be tested in locations around the world and the results used to help Audi inform the future production of electric cars for the mass market.

In particular, Audi will be looking at how the car performs in different climate conditions, driving patterns and energy performance.

Speaking at the TED conference in California, where the e-tron was unveiled, Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, said that the programme was a key step in the manufacturer's ultimate goal of achieving a CO2-neautral product range.

The A3 e-tron prototype has a battery range of approximately 90 miles and a top speed of 90 mph.