Audi is said to be interested in developing a diesel-electric hypercar to compete with upcoming rivals from McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari.

The new model would sit above the current R8 supercar in Audi's range, giving the company a road-going platform on which to extol the virtues of its Le Mans-winning technology.

According to Auto Express, Audi is keen to provide customers with a direct link to its R18 e-Tron race car.

The diesel-hybrid R18 secured Audi's 11th victory in the famous race back in the summer, the team having previously won in non-hybrid diesels and gasoline racers.

While the rear wheels were powered by Audi's Le Mans-winning V-6 diesel engine, the front wheels of the e-Tron featured electric power--giving the race car unrivalled traction.

A road car would likely use very similar technology. Power is likely to be in the 700-horsepower bracket to compete with rivals, and a top speed of over 200 mph is expected.

Audi isn't worried about hypercar buyers shunning the diesel or hybrid powertrains, either.

"If we made this a diesel hybrid it could be a hot-seller. What always sells is performance - if it is quick, has low consumption and looks cool, I’m sure it would be a success," explained Wolfgang Durheimer, Audi's boss of technical development.

'Low consumption' could be a particularly interesting aspect of the car. Supercars aren't known for their gas-sipping qualities, but with a light body, aerodynamic profile and a diesel engine powering the car at higher speeds, it could prove to be vastly more economical than its competitors.

Unfortunately, that may not be for a while.

Audi has several other models to develop in the meantime, and the next-generation R8 is expected to arrive in 2015--so it could be 2017 before the Le Mans-inspired hypercar hits the streets.


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