Audi puts R8 e-tron electric supercar on hold

Audi R8 e-tronAudi has stopped development work on the R8 e-tron, an electric version of its R8 supercar. after more than three years of gestation, the all-electric Audi might never see the light of day.

Audi told Car and Driver that all work on the R8 e-tron has been stopped, and that the whole project is under review. The halt was ordered by Wolfgang Dürheimer, Audi’s new chief of research and development. Dürheimer came to Audi after occupying the CEO’s office at Bentley and Porsche.

Dürheimer’s concerns should sound familiar to any EV enthusiasts. It’s all about the batteries, which are still too expensive and too heavy to justify their relative inability to store electrons.

A normal R8 with a 4.2-liter gasoline V8 weighs 3,605 pounds, while the e-tron weighs 3,924. That added weight is not cancelled out by extra power, either: the V8 generates 430 horsepower, but the e-tron’s two electric motors can only muster 376 hp. Granted, the e-tron does produce 605 pound-feet of torque, compared to the 4.2’s 317 lb-ft.

The e-tron can accelerate from zero to 62 mph (0-100 kph) in 4.6 seconds, and has a 124 mph top speed. The regular R8 matches that time, but will keep accelerating until it reaches 187 mph.

Audi says the e-tron’s 49-kWh battery pack provides a range of 134 miles, but in 2010, a prototype e-tron could barely do three laps of the Le Mans circuit. With the market for supercars already limited, Audi may have realized that the market for a supercar that takes hours to refuel would probably be miniscule.

Range aside, the e-tron does hold the Nürburgring lap record for production-ready electric cars. While the Toyota P002 lapped the ‘Ring in 7:22, much faster than the e-tron’s 8:09, it was not designed to be mass produced. Now that the e-tron is on the chopping block, that distinction may not matter.

Audi has not given up on electric cars, though. The company still plans to lease small batches of electric test vehicles to customers in the United States and Europe to acquire real-world usage data. The non-super e-trons will be based on the A3 (U.S.) and A1 (Europe).

Audi’s crisis of faith echoes that of another major car company: Toyota. The Japanese giant pulled the plug (no pun intended) on an electric version of the Scion iQ, deciding to limit U.S. production to 90 examples for fleet buyers instead.

On the other hand, one of Audi’s biggest rivals, Mercedes-Benz, is betting on a battery-powered future. Mercedes is preparing an electric version of its B-Class compact hatchback and, at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, an electric sports car. The R8 e-tron would have been the perfect rival for Mercedes’ SLS AMG Electric Drive, which boasts 740 hp and a $536,000 price tag.

Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?
Cars

Bentley’s 542-horsepower Continental GT V8 is the best kind of downsizing

The Bentley Continental GT V8 has fewer cylinders than its W12 sibling, but Bentley expects it to offer better gas mileage and more agile handling. The V8's top speed of 198 mph is also pretty darn fast.
Cars

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.
Cars

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.
Cars

Fiat wants to transform the cheeky 500 city car into an urban Tesla

Fiat is finally preparing a new 500. Scheduled to make its debut in early 2020, the retro-chic city car will go electric in part to comply with looming emissions regulations.
Cars

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.
Cars

Say goodbye to Uber for good: Here's how to cut ties with the ridesharing service

If you thought that deleting the Uber app would also delete your account, think again. You'll have to deactivate your account, then wait 30 days in order to do so. Here, we outlined how to delete your Uber account once and for all.
Cars

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.
Cars

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…
Cars

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.
Cars

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.
Cars

This modified Land Rover Discovery is heading to Africa to help fight malaria

A Land Rover Discovery will be used by the Mobile Malaria Project for a 3,900-mile trek across Africa to study malaria. The SUV is equipped with a mobile gene-sequencing laboratory, as well as everything necessary for serious off-roading.
Cars

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.