Audi’s proposed all-electric supercar, the R8 e-tron, may be cancelled entirely, according to reports. Audi had said that the R8 e-tron may go into limited production by the end of 2012 but according to Wired, Audi is wavering and may not push through with the program at all. Audi spokesman Mark Dahncke won’t confirm if the R8 e-tron project had been abandoned. However, he said that the company has yet to make the decision on whether the car will enter series production. He pointed out that battery technology for electric cars is still costly and heavy. The performance of an electric sports car would be affected by too much weight. Meanwhile, the public is likely to be discouraged by its high price tag. Dahncke said that the company hasn’t made a final decision about the vehicle yet.
Aside from the R8 e-tron’s weight and price, it’s possible that the project was opposed by Audi board member Wolfgang Dürheimer, who was newly named as head of Technical Development on its board. Reports indicate that he aims to refocus its research efforts from pure electric propulsion to mainstream plug-in hybrids. This indicates that projects such as the R8 e-tron are placed in jeopardy.
The Audi R8 e-tron is powered by two electric motors with a rating of 376 hp and 605 lb-ft of torque. It also uses a 49-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Audi said that the car can be driven about 134 miles on a full charge. Meanwhile, it can accelerate from zero to 62-mph in 4.6 seconds and it boasts a limited top speed of 124 mph. It should also be noted that a mildly modified R8 e-tron had run a lap around the Nürburgring with a record of 8:09.099. In several cities in the U.S., Audi will launch an electric version of the A3 hatchback named the A3 e-tron on a limited trial basis. These trials, which will last a year, are meant to give feedback to Audi’s engineers on the performance of electric cars in the real world. Audi is conducting similar trials in Europe with a range-extended A1 hybrid hatchback.