It’s official: after years of indecision and corporate U-turns on the future of an all-electric version of its popular R8 sports car, Audi has unveiled the all-new 2016 Audi R8 e-tron electric sports coupe at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
Based on the all-new second-generation 2016 Audi R8, the R8 e-tron will be one of two special editions offered alongside the mainstream gasoline-powered R8 V10 and R8 V10 Plus models, with the other special edition — the Audi R8 LMS — designed specifically to meet new GT3 regulations on the race track.
What’s more, Audi says, customers will be able to order the R8 e-tron later this year, far earlier than previously thought.
As well as a lighter chassis and luggage compartment compared to the previous generation car, made possible by use of an all-new multi material space frame construction that makes use of carbon fiber reinforced plastics to keep weight down and strength up, the 2016 Audi R8 e-tron benefits from a brand-new battery pack that can store a massive 92 kilowatt-hours of energy.
That equates to a total range of 279.6 miles, a massive increase over the battery pack of Audi’s first prototype R8 e-tron, which stored just 49 kilowatt hours and whose production plans were shelved due to its paltry range of just 133 miles.
The increase, says Audi is thanks to a massive increase in energy density from 84 watt-hours per kilogram in the first generation prototype to 154 watt-hours per kilogram in the production 2016 R8 e-tron. The higher the energy density, the more energy a battery can store for a given volume. Built in a T-shape, the R8 e-tron’s battery pack is integrated into the car’s centre tunnel, giving it excellent handling characteristics thanks to its low centre of gravity.
Talking of performance, twin electric motors — each rated at 170 kilowatts — drive the rear wheels to give a maximum torque of 678 pound feet. As well as offering torque vectoring, where each wheel can be sent different power levels to improve cornering, the motors are capable of propelling the car from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds and go to an electronically-limited top speed of either 130.5 mph or 155.3 mph, depending on trim level.
Recharging comes courtesy of a Type 2 CCS charging socket, the standard charging interface for all Audi plug-in vehicles, which enables charging from a 3 or 6 kilowatt domestic charging outlet as well as a dedicated CCS rapid charge station. Using the latter, charge times are around 2-hours from empty to full.
Readers will no doubt want to compare the Audi R8 e-tron to the Tesla Model S P85D , the fastest, longest-range electric car on the market today. Although we should note that the two cars wouldn’t cross shop — one is a five (seven) seat luxury sedan and the other is a sports coupe — the high-end Tesla Model S P85 D wins in both acceleration, range and charging time, equals the Audi on top speeds, and will likely cost less too, although Audi hasn’t detailed R8 e-tron pricing yet.
While many are already criticizing Audi for not besting or matching Tesla’s Model S P85D with the R8 e-tron, we welcome the super-sexy all-electric R8 to the plug-in marketplace, since the more plug-in cars there are, the greater the choice for would-be buyers.
As we often remind our readers, not everyone wants a Tesla. Indeed, Tesla’s current range doesn’t suit all needs.
What do you make of the R8 e-tron? Are you tempted? What do you make of the all-new battery technology, and would you like to see it sold at dealers rather than a build-to-order option?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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