The all-new Audi R8 sports car was officially unveiled today at the Geneva Motor Show, including the limited-production R8 e-tron battery electric version.
Audi had previously released some advance information—including the first official details—about the all-electric R8 e-tron sports car that will soon follow the gasoline version, likely as a 2017 model.
The R8 e-tron information arrived earlier than expected; company officials previously suggested that new electric and plug-in hybrid versions of the R8 would appear some time after the base car’s launch.
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Given the timing on details, we suspect the all-electric e-tron could be mere months behind the gasoline model's anticipated late-summer market launch.
Such a car would compete with the BMW i8, as well as with several niche models, like the Detroit Electric SP:01.
Audi quattro boss Heinz Hollerweger and the new R8
And the plug-in hybrid version of the R8 that's also on the way might be compared with the i8 and the upcoming Acura NSX, a hybrid sports car that will also have a mid-engine layout.
This is the second version of the R8 e-tron. The previous version was on-again, off-again for several cycles as Audi struggled to get the car’s packaging and battery technology right.
Much larger battery
The previous 49-kilowatt-hour battery pack simply wasn’t going to cut it in a high-performance sports car.
To provide for a German necessity—the Autobahn—the previous version simply wouldn’t maintain speeds close to its 124-mph top speed for longer than about 20 minutes.
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With a much larger 92-kWh battery pack (nearly four times the capacity of a Nissan Leaf), the new R8 e-tron should finally carry enough energy onboard to deliver strong performance, or return a much-improved driving range of 280 miles.
That’s far more than the previous version’s 134 miles; on the performance side it makes around 455 horsepower and up to 679 pound-feet of torque.
2016 Audi R8
It can accelerate to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds, or reach a governed top speed of either 131 mph or 155 mph. A coefficient of drag of just 0.28 helps with that.
The R8 e-tron will have rear-wheel drive, with “targeted torque vectoring” between the rear wheels, plus an electromechanical brake system aimed at high brake-regeneration rates.
Expect DC fast-charging hardware using the CCS protocol, too—which might make this sports car an interesting touring possibility in some West Coast U.S. regions once more CCS chargers are in place.
Just as with the gasoline-only versions of the new-generation 2016 Audi R8, the e-tron will be built on a new multi-material Audi Space Frame, including “high proportions” of aluminum and CFRP (carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer/plastic).
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The body shell and multi-material Audi Space Frame weigh just 441 pounds altogether.
Audi notes that CFRP is used around the car’s middle side pillar, its central tunnel, and the rear wall—and altogether torsional rigidity is 40 percent better than that of its predecessor.
Weight savings: carbon fiber, better energy density
Fitting that large, T-shaped battery pack required some packaging ingenuity as well.
Teaser for new Audi R8 debuting at 2015 Geneva Motor Show
The pack is structurally integrated within the center tunnel, just behind the occupant cell, and the automaker notes the energy density has been increased from 84 Wh/kg to 154 Wh/kg.
The pack, produced by Audi, is “based on a newly developed lithium-ion technology which was specially conceived for a purely electric vehicle drive.”
Other design and technology details include LED headlights, an all-digital ‘virtual cockpit,’ and an instrument panel that has ‘floating’ climate controls in the midst of vents, as in the new Audi TT.
For more details on the new Audi R8 e-tron, as well as more on the production and market timeline, all our show reporting can be found on our Geneva Motor Show news page.