Clues to the new Audi’s electric driveline come by way of its complete lack of external cooling ducts. In keeping with the earlier concept, it also boasts a blanked off rear screen. At 4260mm in length, 1900mm in width and 1230mm in height, the R8 e-tron is 170mm shorter, a scant 5mm narrower and 5mm higher than the R8 V8. It also rids on a wheelbase that, at 2600mm, is 50mm shorter than its mid-engined Audi sibling.
At this early stage there’s no official word on whether Audi plans both right- and left-hand drive versions of the Tesla challenging supercar, but Ingolstadt engineers say the modular nature of the driveline makes it possible to provide both without expensive re-engineering of its aluminium spaceframe structure or front bulkhead.
The four wheel drive R8 e-tron is propelled by a four independent electric motors – two mounted within the centre of the front axle and the other two within the rear axle, each producing a sturdy 78bhp and 830lb ft of torque. This provides the slippery two seater with a total of 313bhp along with an immense 3319lb ft at the wheels – the latter relating to around 502lb ft in real world terms, according to Audi. It puts the range at 154 miles on the EU combined driving cycle
The motors draw electricity from a 53kWh lithium ion battery pack sited behind the passenger compartment in the space usually taken up by the standard R8’s petrol engine and, together with its associated electronics package, converter and wiring loom, weighing 470kg. Each motor is mated to its own single speed gearbox and an external cooling system via the air conditioning system.
Audi claims the production version of the R8 e-tron will be capable of a 0-62mph time of around 4.8sec, making it 0.2sec slower than the R8 V8. Initial plans call for its top speed to be limited to 124mph to protect the charge of the battery, although the final specification won’t be locked in until engineers sign off the new car, something that’s likely to take place towards the end of next year in time for its planned launch in 2012.
Along with the R8 e-tron, Audi high ups are also considering small scale production of a smaller and lighter zero emission sportscar based around the R4 e-tron concept wheeled out at this year’s Detroit motor show.
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