Audi R8 e-Tron All-Electric Supercar On Hold: Report

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2013 Audi R8 e-tron with 8:09.099 Nürburgring lap time

2013 Audi R8 e-tron with 8:09.099 Nürburgring lap time

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One of the earlier all-electric concept cars from a major maker was the Audi R8 e-tron, first unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009.

Audi has consistently said it will build up to 1,000 of the battery-electric supercar and sell them--for a high price--to buyers who want a high-performance electric supercar.

Until now, that is.

Car and Driver (via Motor Authority) reports that work on the project has been halted, with the possibility that the program could be ended.

The magazine says that Wolfgang Dürheimer, Audi's new R&D chief, plans a complete review of the program.

In July, Audi touted the R8 e-tron's new electric-car lap record at the famed Nürburgring racetrack. In August, it described the car's new video screen rear-view mirror.

As late as last month, it issued video of the car's in-dash touchscreen monitors (a somewhat Tesla-esque touch, perhaps).

Even in the best of cases, it appears, the car's original launch date--which was to have been by the end of this year--will be pushed back.

Even if the program goes forward, first deliveries will likely not happen early next year as planned.

The R8 e-tron was an unexpected response by Audi to the launch of the groundbreaking Tesla Roadster.

The world's first modern battery-electric car began to reach buyers in late 2009, and its performance shocked many carmakers--General Motors among them.

But the Audi R8 that was used as a base for the e-tron is a much heavier car--designed around a powerful V-10 engine--than the Lotus-based Tesla Roadster.

The report gives the ostensible reason for the review as the continuing high cost of lithium-ion cells, which could pose a major barrier to the program's success.

But it also points out that a lack of interest by customers could play a role, as well as the limited range of an electric supercar.

2011 Tesla Roadster Sport. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

2011 Tesla Roadster Sport. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

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In addition to the 2,500 Tesla Roadsters that have been built, the all-electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive coupe will launch next year as well.

It could simply be that the time for the Audi R8 e-tron has passed.

With Tesla now ramping up production of its 2012 Model S electric sport sedan, a limited-production electric supercar somehow feels ... very 2008.

If the R8 e-tron program is killed by Audi, will it matter one way or the other?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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