Audi plans to put an electric car on sale when the powertrain in this e-tron concept hits targets on range, performance and durability.
The Audi e-tron, which was unveiled at the Frankfurt show, could also give clues about a Porsche Boxster-sized sports car - the much-rumoured R4 - although sources suggest that’s not its main role.
“We’re not putting a date on an electric road car yet, but the significance of the e-tron concept is that we will develop an electric road car in the future when the technology is right,” said an Audi source.
At 4.26m long and 1.9m wide, the e-tron is shorter and wider than a Boxster. This raises the possibility, after VW’s takeover of Porsche, that a platform-sharing deal with Audi is imminent, and that a compact two-seater is one potential outcome.
Because the e-tron’s electric powertrain is clothed in a sports car shape, it shows Audi’s intention to introduce an electric powertrain from the top of its range downwards.
That means it is more likely to appear in a sexy model, such as a small sports car or the A8 flagship, than the forthcoming entry-level A1 or Golf-based A3.
The powertrain for the e-tron features four electric motors — one pair at the front and another pair on the rear axle.
Total available power is 313bhp and torque is an astonishing 3319lb ft — around 10 times that produced by the V8-engined R8. Performance is brisk; 0-62mph takes 4.8sec, 37-75mph takes 4.1sec and the top speed is 124mph.
The 470kg lithium ion battery sits at the front of the e-tron to help achieve a 42 per cent front/58 per cent rear weight distribution. Storage capacity is 42.4kWh, so Audi claims an impressive range of 154 miles.