Geneva Motor Show: Audi R8 e-tron

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The on-again, off-again saga of Audi’s electric supercar could finally be resolved, with an announcement expected on the R8 e-tron at March’s Geneva Motor show.

Audi president Rupert Stadler yesterday said the project was closer to a green light than it had ever been, even though the standard V8 and V10 R8 coupe and convertible models are in the final year of their production cycles.

“We will make an announcement on this car late in the first quarter of the year,” he said during the Detroit Motor Show yesterday.

“We never cancelled the car. We paused the production plans, yes, but we never stopped the research and development on it.”

Audi has built 10 of the supercars already, but instead of heading to customers they remained in Audi hands as development models while it axed the production version last autumn.

“We weren’t comfortable with having only 200km of range out of the R8 e-tron, and I think those fears have been proven with the electric Mercedes-Benz SLS. What have they sold, 20 cars? And it came with all of this attention and faded away to nothing. That’s not what we wanted to do.

“We have made significant advances in battery capacity and range, so that makes it a more interesting proposition again.”

The R8 e-tron was planned to have two electric motors, rear-wheel drive, a 0-100km/h time of 4.2 seconds and a 200km/h top speed. Yet the 820Nm, 280kW EV would have cost more than €400,000 and Audi would still have lost money on every car.

Sources at Audi say the R8 e-tron has been developed to the point where it has a range closer to 500km thanks to better battery technology.

And the R8 e-tron also has the powerful backing of Audi’s technical boss, Ulrich Hackenberg, who drove the development of Volkswagen’s XL1 fuel sipper as well as the e-Golf, the e-Up! and the plug-in hybrid versions of the Golf and the Up! during his time at Volkswagen.
“I’m discussing with the board a way to realise this car and use it as a technology flagship. We need something to bring these new technologies to the market,” Mr Hackenberg said.

Article by Michael Taylor

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