Since BMW and Mercedes both hit the market with electric vehicles, all eyes have been on Audi and its plans to go big in the EV segment. The suspense ended ahead of the Geneva Motor Show when Audi revealed the R8 e-tron with 456 horsepower, 679 pounds-feet of torque, and 280 miles of range among its gung-ho specs. While those figures all best the Tesla Model S 85D, Audi claims the R8 e-tron exists mainly as inspiration for a future sedan.
An electric “dynamic spearhead”
Whether or not the phrase was juiced up in translation, we love Audi’s description of the R8 as the brand’s “dynamic spearhead,” the fastest series-production model the automaker has ever delivered. The electric version arrives with the most eye-popping statistics this side of Tesla.
Compared to the original concept, the R8 e-tron appearing in Geneva will double the horsepower, torque, and range quotes. Audi says it managed this feat by developing (on its own) new battery technology that delivers more power without changing the placement or size of the pack. A T-shaped battery sits in the center of the car behind the occupant seating for a low center of gravity. As for performance, the R8 e-tron will hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 3.9 seconds by relying on its 0.28 drag coefficient.
The numbers top any Tesla Model S outside the explosive P85D — 691 horsepower, to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds — yet Audi says the R8 e-tron is going to be a special edition EV that serves as a “mobile high-tech laboratory” to inform a future sedan design.
R8 e-tron vs. competition
Instead of thinking of the electric supercar as a production car, Audi says it will take special customer orders for hand-built R8 e-trons starting later this year. With the gasoline version starting near $200,000, it is impossible to see Audi charging less for the electric model. In other words, even compared to pricey plug-in vehicles like the BMW i8 ($135,700) and Model S P85D ($105,670), this exotic EV will exist in a price point all its own.
However, an Audi of sedan styling that could cover at least 280 miles of range has an audience that exists on the current auto market. The massive power specs would not have to be equaled for such an electric Audi to sell at a considerable volume. Tesla has already stretched the concept of value in this price segment, which would allow an EV bearing similar gifts in power and range to enter with little trouble.
As we often find when exploring EVs and plug-in hybrids, there are plenty of ifs and maybes coming with the R8 e-tron. They all add up to a gorgeous concept vehicle a few lucky buyers will eventually drive. Should the battery pack and design go into a production sedan, the world will be waiting (even Tesla).
With respect to the current EV market, Audi’s upcoming plug-in hybrids, including an A3 e-tron and Q7 variant, should bring the automaker onto the mainstream electric scene.