The E-tron Concept from Audi will serve as the styling basis for the Audi R4, with E-tron becoming as important to the manufacturer as Quattro. Details inside.

The Audi e-Tron electric concept on display at the NAIAS shares the same shape and styling as the Audi R4.  In the long-run, Audi plans to use the electric car template as a basis for future models.

Expected to come to market in 2012, the R4 will be released both as an all-electric and with conventional engines.  Bigger than the TT, but smaller than the R8, the R4 will share a similar-looking roofline with the other two models.  Once released as a production-ready model, the car will likely have tamer wheel arches and side sills.  As InsideLine reports, expect metal body panels to replace the carbon fiber paneling on the concept.

In addition to the R4 EV, look for turbocharged 2.0- and 2.5-liter engines to appear on the car.

Audi's electric plans will not just be limited to its sportier vehicles.  "E-tron" will become a a company moniker similar in use to "Quattro."  So when electric versions of the A1 through A8 are released, as is planned by the company, expect them to be marketed with the E-tron badge.

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