The Audi R8 e-tron will make it into limited-scale production.
Audi has backtracked on an earlier decision to cancel production of the Audi R8 etron, and will now push ahead with small-scale production of the zero-emission two-seater as part of a number of sweeping changes made to its research and engineering operations since the arrival of its new head, Ulrich Hackenberg.
Citing recent advances in lithium-ion battery technology that has reportedly increased its range from an original 215km (134 miles) to close to 400km (248.5 miles), insiders at Audi’s headquarters in Germany suggest the R8 etron will now go into limited production during the latter half of 2014.
The rear-wheel-drive R8 etron is set to act as a halo model for a number of smaller and more affordable new electric-powered Audi models, whose engineering is being overseen by Hackenberg – the man responsible for parent company Volkswagen’s new Volkswagen e-up and e-Golf, among other hybrid-powered models, including the XL1 and Golf Plug-In Hybrid.
Among the changes made to the R8 etron to enhance its suitability for production is a new lithium battery technology featuring an alternative chemical process and, it is claimed, greater energy density than the original 48.6kWh unit.
Further details remain unclear, although the new car is expected to share the styling of the second-generation R8 – itself due to be launched with conventional petrol engines in 2014. The R8 etron was conceived from the outset around the second-generation R8’s new aluminium and carbonfibre body structure in a move that saw prototypes possess a kerb weight of 1780kg.
With a combined output of 376bhp and a stout 605lb ft of torque from two electric motors, the earlier R8 etron driven by Autocar back in May was claimed to possess a 0-62mph time of 4.2sec and limited 124mph top speed. However, plans for production were cancelled due to concerns about the all-electric supercar’s limited 215km range.