The Audi R8 e-tron electric sports car has been cancelled and re-announced more times than the Transport Evolved editorial staff have had hot dinners. In fact, the last time we covered the car here on Transport Evolved, the news was that Audi would be bringing the R8 e-tron to market as a special-option, factory-order model.
But now as our friends over at GreenCarReports detail, Audi looks to be readying a next-generation R8 e-tron for wider production — and is even working on a second, more family-friendly all-electric Audi for launch in 2017. What’s more, the promised 2017 model will come complete with a 280-miles-per-charge battery pack which will place it in direct competition with the Tesla Model S luxury sedan.
Although Audi hasn’t confirmed final details for the upcoming R8 e-tron, rumors suggest that we could see an all-electric version of the popular coupe early next year at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Based on the next-generation R8 — also due to be debut next year — the R8 e-tron will offer at least 250 miles of range per charge if previous promises by Audi are to be believed, and will be sold alongside a plug-in hybrid variant for those who aren’t quite ready to make the transition to fully-electric power.
Talking with reporters at the LA Auto Show, Audi executives remained coy about the R8 e-tron, its debut date and final specification, but were happy to talk about an upcoming ‘family-friendly’ electric car that it planned to bring to market in 2017.
Acknowledging that Audi is working on such a car, Audi’s head of technical development, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg told AutoExpress that improvements in battery technology — the same ones which extended the R8 e-tron’s range from 113 miles per charge on early prototypes to more than 280 miles per charge in pre-production models — would be used to give Audi its first long-distance non-sports car model.
“Such a car is under development,” Hackenberg confirmed. “I was able to reengineer the R8 e-tron project and technology with the team and we are on the way to a range of 450km (280 miles). Let’s say that technology will also be carried over and is a trailer for another car with long range. It is under development and will be in the market for around 2017 but it will not be a sports car.”
The “will not be a sports car” leads us to believe — as many other outlets agree — that this translates to some form of all-electric sedan. That’s because Audi has already discussed the option of working on an all-electric crossover SUV to cross-shop against the 2016 Tesla Model X and parent company Volkswagen has already promised that its next-generation battery technology will give a massive boost in range to the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf. If we had to guess, we’re predicting the mystery model will be an all-electric version of the A3 — which shares theMQB-platform chassis and drivetrain technology with the Volkswagen Golf.
While Audi has not yet built a production all-electric A3, it has recently launched the A3 e-tron, a vehicle which shares the plug-in hybrid drivetrain technology found in the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTE. Prior to this, it did have a limited test-fleet of all-electric A3 e-tron test vehicles, which it tested in certain parts of California.
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