Audi first unveiled an electric supercar concept more than three years ago at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show. A more production-ready electric R8, called the R8 e-tron then appeared at the 2010 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So we all sat back and waited for this upcoming electric supercar, all the while being shown a variety of new concepts which Audi also promised to be putting their e-tron technology into. But then word came out a few weeks ago that Audi was putting the whole project on hold, pending review. As Fourtitude (spelling is intentional) reports, this status for the R8 e-tron came about for a variety of reasons, but a lack of any meaningful advancement in battery technology at the consumer level since the original concept debuted being the primary one.
But now, word is that Audi will continue to work on the car as a technological showcase, even if a full-fledged production run never materializes. The prototype, in its current form is powered by a pair of electric motors, which produce a combined 376 horsepower and 606lb-ft of torque. Because these motors operate independently, power can be metered out according to levels of grip, and this works much the same way as a torque vectoring differential on a regular car. Audi even found a way to make the battery load-bearing and incorporate it into the car’s structure. This reduces weight, and the R8 e-tron doesn’t carry as much extra weight the way other converted electrics do. This also keeps the center of gravity low as well, and the fact that the prototype set the electric car lap record at the Nurburgring should tell you that Audi executed this feat of engineering properly.
So although you won’t be able to buy an R8 e-tron in the immediate future, as was previously promised, the car will continue to evolve. A small production run along the lines of the R8’s platform-mate, the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, isn’t entirely out of the question. But it is more likely that Audi is going to wait until battery technology reaches a level they feel is appropriate for an electric supercar.