The Audi R8 TDI Le Mans concept originally premiered at the 2008 Geneva show
Audi is poised to outline its plans to launch a Le Mans-inspired road car at the Frankfurt motor show in September.
Speaking to Autocar at the Geneva motor show, Audi technical chief Wolfgang Dürheimer said that the proposed Audi hypercar was in the “product evaluation” stage of its development, but he hinted that the car was looking good to be followed through to production.
“We run product evaluation on different ideas, looking at market positioning, brand image, development cost and time to market,” said Wolfgang Dürheimer. “Once this is done we will have a clear decision on what happens next. I would expect an update on this project in September at Frankfurt.
“It is still alive and I’m pushing for it.”
Dürheimer is keen to closely align the Le Mans programme with a road car as it “can have a tremendous boost for brand kudos” and people “would go crazy for it”.
The Audi hypercar is likely to have a radical diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, to link it to the set-up in the Le Mans car.
He wouldn’t be drawn on the exact capacity of the powertrain or the platform for the car, but said that all the technology already existed within Audi and the firm would not have to develop anything bespoke from scratch. A plug-in hybrid is likely, however, as Audi continues to push the technology.
“The market for these cars is fairly limited, but they are so important for brand image and perception,” said Wolfgang Dürheimer. “For these cars, these should be the main focuses.
“I think we need to do this car and show clearly where racing goes.”
Dürheimer added that hybrid technology would be accepted if these new breed of hypercars prove that the technology can make the cars go faster.
“I am convinced that if a hybrid can cut lap times and increase performance then this will be a breakthrough,” he said. “You might think a race car is a long way from a road application, but the hybrid technology in racing has been transferred to the road cars already.”