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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Comments (7)
  1. I hate it when car companies get nervous and start killing off cars before they even reach production. We need electric cars of all types not just little 5 door hatchbacks. Well thanks a lot Audi for taking the two steps forward three steps back approach.

  2. Audi is right to cancel the R8 E-tron, electric supercars are a flawed concept. The Roadster still made sense as a showcase for EV performance, but at the end of the day supercars are automotive hooligans, all about the noises and vibrations of roaring ICE engines, the sort of cars people like Jeremy Clarkson talk about in bars. Electric drivetrains work for real world vehicles, supercars should remain a steampunk niche in a future where technology has moved on.

  3. I take it you've never driven a supercar, and no super cars don't have to be about noise and roaring engines they could be as silent as an electric car if they're electric. Supercars are rolling art and push the boundaries of automotive technology but there are always two sides to everything. Some people drive supercars because they love them and they treat their cars very well. But then there are people who just want to go fast and don't care what happens until it's to late. It's like cell phones, you could call for help in an emergency or you could cause the emergency by texting and driving. There will always be people who use things properly and others who abuse those same things, it's not what they are it's how they are used.

  4. Why is this surprising? A lot of money for what? a Show? EV supercars are always going to be small in numbers and potentially a lot of bad publicity if it doesn't work out. So, VW has other higher priorities to worry about...

    VW is as committed in diesel as Toyota is committed in hybrids. Neither has any real interest in EVs. But at least Toyota has hedged its bet by investing in Tesla...

  5. I couldn't give you a thumbs up for some reason, but let me do it informally!

  6. It does not matter on electric. What would matter is if Audi started cutting their engine research (especially on diesels), their start stop systems, hybrid add-ons, or new fuel alternatives and other things that could pump up the mileage to 55 MPG quickly. VW is already there.

  7. My purely speculative opinion is that the battery-powered R8 could be replaced by a hybrid version with the flywheel hybrid that helped the R18 win at Le Mans perhaps even with a V8 diesel. Wolfgang Dürheimer who now runs Audi R&D had the same job at Porsche when they debuted the Williams developed system in the 911 in 2010.

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