DETROIT – Volkswagen AG is making its intentions clear toward vehicle electrification, with two concepts unveiled at the North American International Auto Show here that demonstrate it is very much in the game.

The New Coupe Concept, unleashed for the Volkswagen brand, is a midsize coupe that not only provides a peek at potential future electric-drivetrain technology for the brand but sheds light on the styling for the next-generation Jetta sedan, due later this year.

Audi’s e-tron is a small, pure-electric sports car that borrows the powertrain from the R8-based e-tron exhibited at the Frankfurt auto show last fall.

VW’s full-hybrid NCC is derived from the same architecture that underpins the upcoming Jetta and is positioned between the Scirocco and CC in size and market intent. It is powered by a 148-hp, 1.4L TSI gasoline 4-cyl. engine mated with a 20 kW (27-hp) electric motor and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The coupe uses a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery to supply power to the electric motor, which can power the car by itself or supplement the gasoline engine. Like the system that will be used in the upcoming VW Toureg, Audi Q5 and Porsche Cayenne cross/utility vehicles, the engine is disengaged from the transmission while coasting at freeway speeds, eliminating drag losses and improving fuel economy.

The concept also includes stop/start capability that further reduces consumption, plus regenerative braking.

Fuel consumption is estimated at 45 mpg (4.2L/100 km) and carbon-dioxide emissions are pegged at 98 g/km. Top speed is 141 mpg (227 km/h) and the concept can sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) from rest in 8.1 seconds, VW says.

The New Coupe Concept takes the next step with VW’s latest styling theme, which debuted with the revamped Golf recently launched in the U.S.

It features a wide, narrow grille, flanked by chiseled bi-xenon headlights ringed with a bracelet of light-emitting-diode daytime running lights and turn signals. An aggressive lower air dam accents the car’s sporty look.

Sculpted lines that start at the headlamps and follow the NCC’s beltline all the way to the trunk lid and run along the bottom of the doors between the wheels, add some muscle to the coupe’s appearance.

Overall, the 4-seater measures 178.5 ins. (454.0 cm) in overall length and 70.1 ins. (178.0 cm) wide.

Audi’s e-tron resembles a smaller version of the R8 in character. Positioning of its two electric motors along the rear axles effectively gives the car a mid-engine-like layout, similar to the R8.

The 2-seater measures 154.7 ins. (393.0 cm) long and 70.1 ins. (178.0 cm) wide and weighs 2,976 lbs. (1,350 kg).

The two motors combine for 204 hp and 1,954 lb.-ft. (2,650 Nm) of torque and can accelerate the aluminum-bodied coupe to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds.

In addition to supplying the drive power, the twin electric motors can vary output to each of the wheels, providing a built-in torque vectoring system.

“This is our vision of how a small sports car under the R8 could look,” Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler says.

With its 45 kW/h Li-ion batteries, the e-tron boasts a 155-mile (250-km) range. Charging time is 11 hours using a 230-volt line, but that could be cut to two hours with a 400-volt power feed. Regenerative braking replenishes some of the battery charge during driving.

High-tech headlights adapt to rain or fog and activate and deactivate high beams by using a camera to recognize oncoming traffic and weather conditions. The headlamp LEDs change appearance depending on vehicle speed and ambient conditions.

Although Audi says it will market the e-tron R8 shown in Frankfurt by the end of 2012, there are no plans yet to produce this Detroit concept.

However, Audi would like to turn e-tron into its brand name for electric powertrains, similar to the way it uses quattro for its all-wheel-drive system.

“We want to give electric powertrains an emotional face with this car,” Stadler says. “We want to establish the connection to the consumer with the e-tron name.

VW says it also has no plans to build the NCC hybrid, though it is considering offering a full hybrid system in the new midsize car VW will build at its upcoming Chattanooga, TN, plant beginning next year or upcoming new Jetta sedan due later this year.

dzoia@wardsauto.com