The Audi R8 E-Tron

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Audi has recently unveiled its pure electric vehicle named the Audi R8 E-tron. This is a midengine flagship GT and would become available to the market by year’s end. Despite these pronouncements, there are still many issues that have affected the vehicle from becoming a fixture in dealerships all across the world.

In a recent report by Car and Driver Magazine, the current spiraling battery costs and the limited battery range have affected the delivery of the R8 E-tron. These two factors may result in stopping the program in its entirety. This though has been addressed by Corporate Communications Manager for Audi of America Brad Stertz, as he assured the public that the program has not been derailed. He did stress that the R8 E-tron is a road based laboratory instead of a prototype about to enter production.

According to Stertz, “All along, Inglostadt has been saying there would be a limited production run at first.” He was referring to the corporate base of Audi AG during a telephone interview. He followed it up by saying, “The plan for the R8 E-tron is for the production of ten in an initial series run, which will continue to serve as a technology platform.” He did say that the ten vehicles would strictly be for “internal use only” and the carmaker would “consider the circumstances surrounding the feasibility of subsequent builds.” He did not provide a timetable nor did he directly address the prospects of the R8 E-tron making its way to dealerships by the end of the year.

The vehicle has been in the works for several years, as it first unveiled the concept car during the 2009 Frankfurt motor show. It also drove an R8 E-tron prototype at the 12.9 mile Nürburgring racetrack in Germany as it set a lap record at eight minutes nine seconds for an electric powered, production intent vehicle. The vehicle that ran the lap at the racetrack had a lithium-ion battery pack having 49 kilowatt hours of capacity. The rear driven coupe accelerated from zero to sixty at 4.6 seconds according to the carmaker.

The range is estimated at 134 miles which is an improvement to other electric vehicles in its class. This is attributable to the high energy capacity, which compared to the Nissan Leaf with roughly half the batter capacity. The R8 E-tron’s range is lower than the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive prototypes, which Mercedes estimates at 155 miles.

Mr. Stertz reiterates, “Ingolstadt is continuing to move forward on plug-in hybrid E-tron models for volume production.” This accents the hesitation the carmaker has in developing purely electric vehicle and this conforms to the recent statements by Audi executives on preference of plug-in hybrid powetrain vehicles over purely electric cars.

Audi in pursuing this program, would be introducing its plug-in hybrid variation for the A3 model as a sedan by 2014. The larger A4 sedan as well as its full-size Q7 crossover are also expected to have plug-in technology innovation within the next two to three years.