“You can very well imagine that at some point in time we will have an electric supercar,” said Peter Mertens, Audi’s new R&D boss, at the Formula E race in Berlin earlier this month.
First mooted as far back as 2009, the R8 e-tron had a tortuous development, one that became mired in Audi’s internal politics. It was cancelled by Audi’s then development boss Wolfgang Dürheimer back in 2013 on the basis that battery technology was insufficient to deliver the targeted performance. Then Dürheimer’s replacement, Volkswagen’s engineering supremo, Ulrich Hackenberg, ordered that the e-tron be put into very limited production, with sales lasting just 19 months until the death of the first-generation R8 in 2015.
Hackenberg has since departed, following the Dieselgate scandal, but Mertens — newly arrived from Volvo — made it clear that he is keen for Audi to have another halo electric model, although plans for such a car are still at an early stage.