The Audi R8 e-tron is reportedly close to being signed off for production, despite the on-again, off-again project previously being canned due to the car's short range and high cost.
According to Autocar, Audi technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg reconsidered the decision to terminate development of the Audi R8 e-tron because he believes the R8 e-tron would be a fitting technology flagship for the Ingolstadt car maker, given Audi’s focus on plug-in electric vehicles.
“I’m discussing with the board a way to realise this car and use it as a technology flagship,” Hackenberg said.
The R8 e-tron project was previously indefinitely delayed because prototypes had an unviable range and a production model was destined to command an extremely high sticker price. Just 10 were to be built, purely for research and development purposes, to be used exclusively by Audi.
However, Hackenberg revealed new battery technology has since led to a complete repackaging of the electric supercar, offering an improved range at a reduced cost, making the project viable for production. Indeed, the car’s range has reportedly almost doubled to around 400km, with prototype testing continuing last year.
There has been no indication as to whether the car’s outputs have changed with the repackaging; previously, the R8 e-tron used two electric motors, each generating 280kW/820Nm, to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 200km/h.
If the car does enter production it will face a number of new, electrified competitors, including its closest rival, the Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive. That car also robbed the R8 e-tron of its Nurburgring lap record for an electric vehicle, smashing the Audi’s lap-time by around 13 seconds.
There is no word yet on whether the R8 e-tron’s reduced price will undercut that of the Mercedes, which sits at around $650,000 in Europe and the US.