As some manufacturers toy with bringing electric small cars and sedans to market, Audi is exploring the alternative side of electric propulsion with the R8 e-tron supercar.The project was put on hold back in October 2012, pending “a complete review of the program”.
Now, it appears that plans are back on to develop the electric supercar, with Audi enthusiast website Fourtitude revealing further information on the R8 e-tron.
It appears that, while the project may have been subject to “review”, it wasn’t entirely halted — or at least, even if halted, Audi still had extra details on the car to reveal.
First and foremost, the car has gained some stylistic changes, echoing those on the current facelifted R8 production cars. A long rear diffuser and some body differences compared to the gasoline R8s improves the car’s drag coefficient significantly — 0.27, down from 0.35.
Regular R8 models are all-wheel drive, using Audi’s famous quattro system. Some R8 e-tron prototypes have also sent power to all four wheels, but production models — if they ever arrive — are expected to be rear-wheel drive.
Two synchronous electric motors mounted at the rear put 376 horsepower to the road, and 604 pounds-feet of torque. 0-62 mph is touted at 4.2 seconds, or a few tenths quicker than that of the Tesla Model S Performance.
Torque vectoring is also utilized, thanks to the electric motors’ ability to spin at different rates with precise control. This helps the car turn more accurately, as individual rear wheels can be powered or slowed to change the car’s cornering attitude.
The e-tron weighs 3,924 lbs at the curb — no different than before — and carbon-fibre reinforced plastic features heavily in the car’s construction.
Other unique details about the car’s weight have emerged, including light-weight springs. These are made from fibreglass-reinforced polymer, saving 40 per cent in weight over steel springs. Wheel hubs are made from forged titanium, and the anti-roll bar is 35 per cent lighter than that on the standard car, thanks to aluminium and carbon fibre construction.
The 1,272-lb lithium-ion battery is mounted low, improving the centre of gravity, but also serves as a load-bearing element in the car’s chassis. Range is still quoted at just over 133 miles, on the combined European cycle — think a real-world range of 100-105 miles.
Production of the R8 e-tron is no longer confirmed, though Fourtitude speculates that a very limited run may eventually become available.
For the meantime, it’s more a symbol of what could be possible from a future Audi electric supercar — albeit one heavily based on a series production car. A dedicated electric vehicle could be even more impressive…
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