Porsche and McLaren might have hybrid supercars but Audi is doing them one better: an all electric version of the Audi R8. The on-again-off-again project known as the R8 e-tron is finally going to see the open tarmac of public motorways.
The announcement at Audi’s annual press conference was something off a double edged sword for those of us who have been awaiting this milestone from Audi. Yes it is planning on producing the all-electric supercar, but it isn’t planning to make many.
“The Board of Management of AUDI AG has decided to offer the next-generation R8 e-tron as a manufactured sports car upon customer request. And we will make intensive use of the next generation of the R8 e-tron as an open technology carrier and working instrument for our engineers to test and further develop technologies for the future,” the press release stated.
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, who – with a name like that was basically born to be Audi’s head of technical development – said that the R8 e-tron would only be produced in response to customer demand. Translated from reserved German engineer to real world, this means a small production run – almost certainly less than a couple of hundred units.
So, why the change of heart from Audi? It is all about the batteries. In its last iteration, the R8 e-tron had a range of just 130 miles, which just wasn’t up to Audi’s standards. But since a complete battery redesign, the range has been more than doubled to 280 miles. That is a stunning amount of range, especially when you consider the performance the R8 e-tron can put down.
At our last report, the R8 e-tron could put down 376 horsepower and more than 500 pound feet of torque, which, by the way, is 100 more than the mighty Thor. Despite the fact the prototypes weigh in at close to 4,000 pounds, 500 pounds more than the R8 V10, the R8 e-tron can still manage a sprint to 60 in 4.2 seconds.
The best news in all of this may not have anything to do with the R8 e-tron itself, but instead what it means for the rest of Audi’s cars. If Audi’s new battery tech can manage this kind of range and power, its future electric cars may be more than a match for anything else on the market, including the mighty Tesla.
So, even if you can’t get yourself a bespoke R8 powered by lightning, you might soon be able to get something almost as good.
Update: We were wrong in our assessment of the on-sale date of the R8 e-tron. Audi has made no statement indicating when the R8 e-tron will be on sale. We regret the mistake.