The new Audi R8, which is widely tipped to go on sale in 2015 following its expected debut at the 2014 Paris auto show in October, was rumoured to possibly receive a high-tech plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
However, Audi product manager Marie Suzanne Ernst told CarAdvice the company will focus purely on petrol or powerpoint – and not a combination of the two – for the all-new supercar.
“In the next generation we will have an electric car on behalf of customers’ needs, which is only available [upon special order],” Ernst said.
“So it’s not a make of series production, but if a customer wants to have it, he can order it,” she said.
Ernst pointed out that plans are well advanced for more plug-in hybrid e-tron models, and Audi Australia has told CarAdvice that the brand intends to establish e-tron (which will include hybrid and EV models) as a third brand pillar alongside petrol and diesel. Audi is also reportedly planning a diesel version of the new R8.
“We are planning on more models, but we are not communicating on what models,” Ernst said of plans for a rollout of plug-in technology.
“But we could imagine some more models on the MLB platform, so, the big cars,” she said, indicating that vehicles such as the new Q7 SUV (below) are candidates.
The packaging of whatever cars are offered with the plug-in tech will be crucial, and could impact the potential for e-tron models to be offered with quattro all-wheel drive.
“At the moment it's the concept with power going to the front wheels because you want to have the space,” Ernst said, suggesting that all-wheel drive couldn’t work in the current layout seen in the A3 e-tron.
“There’s no space to put the battery at the back [if you make it quattro]. Maybe with the next generation there will be space. But for now you have the space in the trunk. The solution Audi decided there is for everything is to the front axle,” she said.
Tobias Meyer of Audi’s product marketing team reiterated the thought process for mainstream models, suggesting the most logical option is plug-in hybrid technology rather than pure EV tech.
“For the next-generation model for the mass production we are planning more with plug-in hybrids,” he said.
“We see because of infrastructure and mobility now, [plug-in hybrids are] the project that’s more usable and makes more sense for the customer,” Meyer said.
“Battery technology is not [at its peak yet]. It’s developing more and more, the costs will probably go down, infrastructure will go up. But now, for us, plug-in hybrids are the right concept,” he said of the brand’s mainstream model plans.
However, Meyer indicated to CarAdvice that the electric R8 could be the first car from the brand to be offered with inductive wireless recharging technology.
“That would be a possible idea. For example, yes,” he said of the R8 becoming the first vehicle to gain the tech.