Reports suggest that the Audi R8 e-tron, the German automaker's proposed all-electric supercar, might not see the light of day. Despite plans to put the R8 e-tron into limited production by the end of this year, Wired claims Audi is reportedly hesitating and may cancel the program entirely.
Audi spokesman Mark Dahncke couldn't confirm that the R8 e-tron project had been shelved, but admitted that the company was currently deciding whether or not to put the car into series production. He noted that battery technology for electric cars remains expensive and heavy. Too much weight would reduce the performance of an electric sports car, while a high price tag could make the car unfeasible for sale to the public.
"We've continued to have the stance that the vehicle is not decided upon yet," Dahncke told us.
In addition to concerns over weight and price, the R8 e-tron project may have faced opposition from Audi board member Wolfgang Dürheimer, who was recently appointed head of Technical Development on the company's board. He reportedly wants to shift Audi's research efforts away from pure electric propulsion to mainstream plug-in hybrids, putting projects like the R8 e-tron in jeopardy.
The Audi R8 e-tron uses two electric motors rated for 376 hp and 605 lb-ft of torque, with energy stored in a 49-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Audi says the car can drive about 134 miles on single charge, while performance estimates comprise a 4.6-second 0-to-62-mph time and a limited top speed of 124 mph. As further testament to the car's performance, a mildly modified R8 e-tron recently lapped the Nürburgring in 8:09.099.
Audi also will launch an electric version of the A3 hatchback, called the A3 e-tron, on a limited trial basis in certain U.S. cities. The year-long trials are designed to give Audi engineers feedback on how electric cars perform in real-world use. The company is performing similar trials in Europe with a range-extended A1 hybrid hatchback.
Sources: Wired, Audi