We recently reported that Audi's $46 million (€36 M) e-Performance research project had closed after producing a prototype F12 R8. A car that was not to be confused with the upcoming for production R8 e-tron. Or at least we thought it was upcoming.
According to Car & Driver, new Audi Research and Development boss, Wolfgang Dürheimer, has apparently called for a complete review of the R8 e-tron project. A program that was supposed to see some 1,000 cars produced, and be sold sometime starting in 2013.
It now appears that the electric super car will not launch in 2013, and it is likely that the entire project will be scrapped. At the heart of the matter is reportedly the cost of the batteries for the car. The R8 e-tron has 49 kWh worth of them.
And this would make sense... if the car was retailing for $57,400 like the Tesla Model S. However, it has always carried an expected sticker price of more than the R8 V10 Spyder (from $162,700) , and with lithium battery prices well south of $500/kWh now, how is $20,000 worth of batteries really affecting the outlook for this car? Especially considering the V10 engine previously sourced from Lamborghini was about the same price.
Johan de Nysschen Shows Off the Audi R8 e-tron At Its Debut At NAIAS in 2010
In truth, Audi really has never been a believer in electric vehicles, as former Audi of Americas President, Johan de Nysschen (who curiously is now working as boss of Nissan's premium Infiniti brand) once said, "The Chevrolet Volt is a car for Idiots... No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it," before going on to explain how EVs would destroy the nation's power grid, and would only shift dirty emission from tailpipes to "smokestacks of coal-burning utilities."
This decision would seem to underline the fact that as Audi searches to improve the bottom line of the company, electric vehicles are the first ones to go.
Not that a 125 mile (EPA estimate), 313hp/502lb-ft, 4.8 sec 0-62 mph super car made a lot of sense in the first place. However, we would suggest to Audi to not blame the batteries on this one... blame yourselves in the "research" department for thinking the R8 e-tron was a good idea in the first place.
I guess we will have to settle for the $540,000 Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive to get our electric super car thrills now.
Car & Driver