Audi has confirmed its R8 e-tron electric supercar has been brought back from the dead and will go on sale thanks to new battery technology that has extended its electric driving range to a full 450km.
Audi board member for technical development Dr Ulrich Hackenberg said the R8 e-tron program that was cancelled last year has been resurrected and development is progressing full steam ahead.
But it seems that instead of being a serious production model the R8 e-tron will be used as a halo model for much cheaper hybrid Audis and will be produced to order for presumably very rich customers.
“The board of management of Audi AG has decided to offer the next generation R8 e-tron as a manufactured sports car upon customer request,” Dr Hackenberger said.
“We will make intensive use of the next generation of the R8 e-tron as an open technology carrier and working instrument of our engineers to test and further develop technologies for the future.”
The e-tron will be based on the next generation of the R8, which in turn shares an aluminium and carbon-fibre platform with the all new Lamborghini Hurracan LP610-4. Previous development versions of the R8 e-tron have been based on the current R8, derived from the V10-powered Lamborghini Gallardo.
While Audi executives remain tight-lipped about the packaging and drivetrain of the R8 e-tron, it is likely to retain a version of the concept’s separate electric motors driving each rear wheel.
Prototypes based on the existing R8 produced 280kW of power and a whopping 820Nm of torque and accelerated to 100km/h in a claimed 4.2 seconds.
“In recent months I have had a very close look at these electric high-speed sports cars with my team. The latest development work is very convincing,” Dr Hackenberger said.
“We have increased their range from 215 to approximately 450km, which is a decisive step towards everyday practicality.
“This significant step is the result of progress with battery technology and a revised package with considerably higher power density.
“In brief: we combine power and stamina.”
While hybrid electric supercars such as the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari are full-scale production models, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed that the R8 e-tron will be available only to special order.
“We have the technologies up our sleeve to achieve greater range and in the next generation of the R8 we will take on customer orders,” he said.
“As to how many, under which conditions and where we will produce it, give us a few more days because I think we will have plenty of time to talk about it.
“The good thing is we’ve found a technical approach to offer a range of 450km which is an improvement on most purely electric powered vehicles."