Audi says that whilst sports cars can be made with the current-generation of lithium-ion batteries, the need for lighter, smaller and higher capacity units in the form of solid-state battery technology will likely be the answer to proper lightweight electric sports cars.
Speaking to CarAdvice in Germany last week, head of Audi’s product and technology communications, Peter Oberndorfer, confirmed the company's plans for a four-door GT style sports car but hinted that a proper electric Audi R8-style electric supercar will need to wait for lighter and higher-capacity battery solution.
“We will have very sporty battery electric cars… the so-called e-tron GT, whether that will be the final name or not, but it will be a four-door car not a successor of the R8,” Oberndorfer said.
According to Oberndorfer, the current crop of battery technology has no issue in providing power or acceleration, and “fit surprisingly well with sporty cars”, but will not provide the type of dynamics and requirements that an Audi R8 customer may have.
“Basically electric cars have very good balance because the batteries are between the axle and very low, maybe with a sports car, it would be different… The e-tron GT is still three years away or something like that, so you will be surprised what we can do," he said.
“I personally think we need more battery development because sports cars should be light, if you go very fast you need a lot of battery and you don’t want to spend three days going from the Nurburgring to Munich or the other way around. I think for real sports cars you need development of battery and surroundings and then you could think about it.”
Audi believes there is still some development and potential left in lithium-ion battery technology, however, it’s betting that better technology will come with time.
“[With] lithium-ion [we've developed] in some stages but it’s not very significant, [so] also our development boss is talking about solid-state batteries, [these are] still a few years away but will come," Oberndorfer continued.
"Maybe you can do [electric] with sport cars already but it would be with an advantage if it can be developed with batteries getting lighter and needing less space and so on, and there will be some progress with lithium-ion but I think the real progress is to come with solid state or similar.”
Audi’s next foray into full-electric sports car will start with the E-Tron GT, likely to be released in very the early part of the next decade, though let's not forget the now-defunct R8 e-tron (pictured) which made 340kW and 920Nm from its dual-electric motors.
Reports claim the electric supercar was killed due to slow sales – apparently "fewer than 100" were built – which probably wasn't helped by its €1 million ($1.54 million) price tag.