Audi might cancel the R8 e-Tron electric supercar

Article by Christian A., on October 29, 2012

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.

New Audi R8 E-Tron weighs 23 kilograms less than the R8 Coupé which is already set at a high bar with its aluminum-based Audi Space Frame (ASF) principle. E-Tron’s overall weight is at 1,780 kilograms and its body structure which includes its side sections only weighs 199 kilograms. With this feature, the brand presents a whole new stage of development with its ultra lightweight construction technology which uses a Multimaterial Space Frame where large parts of carbon-reinforced polymer (CFRP) supplement fill out the body’s aluminum frame.

These CFRP components add up to 23 percent of the car’s body shell weight and 75 percent with the metal parts in which the remainder is made up by the miscellaneous materials. The E-Tron features a classic aluminum design in its forwards structure and the passenger cell is mostly made of CFRP while its tail end uses a blend of both materials. Its CRFP supporting trunk insert highlights ridged crash structures which convey that its rear module may absorb energy five times as much as the aluminum lattice. A sandwich concept in its rear bulkhead and B-pots help reduce its weight by up to 11.5 kilograms.

All parts of its CFRP outer skin are customized specifically to serve its purpose and suit it position. For instance, its front lid features seven coats of carbon fiber. A set of two layers that incorporate nonwoven material is enough for the interior shells of the car’s back side sections.

It is also powered by a lithium-ion battery which is designed and made in-house and conveys Audi’s development expertise. The battery highlights 530 prismatic flat cells which are bolted to a 40-point structure and works as a sustaining feature enhances the firmness of the Multimaterial Space Frame. This T-shaped battery measures 234 cm long, 135 cm wide and 71 cm high including the control unit. The tunnel also features two floors containing cell modules and four floors in the rear end.

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