The Audi R8 e-tron electric sports car has been cancelled and revived numerous times, but now it appears that not only will the e-tron enter production, it will also be the stepping stone to a more mainstream electric car.

At this week's 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi officials indicated that the carmaker is planning an all-electric family car with around 280 miles of range for 2017.

SEE ALSO: How Audi, BMW & Mercedes Plan To Compete With Tesla--And Why

The R8 e-tron will come first, though, perhaps as early as the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January, according to a report from Seeking Alpha.

The two-seat coupe--along with a rumored plug-in hybrid version--will be based on the platform of the next-generation R8, also set to debut next year.

2016 Audi A3 e-tron - First Drive

2016 Audi A3 e-tron - First Drive

Audi technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg has previously said the R8 e-tron will have 250 miles of range--up from the 130 miles of the first prototype cars.

However, speaking to Auto Express at the L.A. show, Hackenberg also said that Audi will leverage experience gained during development of the R8 e-tron for a more practical family car.

With an anticipated 280 miles of range, the car will likely target the Tesla Model S when when it arrives in calendar year 2017, perhaps as a 2018 model.

MORE: Audi Plug-In Hybrid Range To Include R8 Supercar Too

Audi believes it can achieve that range target thanks to anticipated improvements in battery energy density and electric-motor efficiency.

Audi's parent Volkswagen Group claims to be developing motors that are five times more efficient than the one used in the current VW e-Golf.

No other details have been confirmed, including whether the electric car will be based on one of Audi's existing models, or be a completely new addition to the lineup.

2016 Audi A3 e-tron - First Drive

2016 Audi A3 e-tron - First Drive

Either way, it seems Audi is now targeting Tesla directly, and it's not alone.

The luxury brand is also thought to be developing an all-electric version of its upcoming Q8 "four-door coupe utility vehicle," which would seem to have the Tesla Model X in its sights.

Meanwhile rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz reportedly have plans for larger, more luxurious electric cars, while Porsche may build an all-electric version of its planned "Pajun" (Panamera Junior) sedan.

Will these new models change the electric-car landscape in a few years' time? Or will Tesla simply fire back with an even more competitive product?

Stay tuned.


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