Audi has officially scrapped production on its all-electric supercar, the R8 e-tron, a mere 19 months after revealing it a full fledged model alongside the third-generation R8 coupe following its debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. Less than 100 units were sold in that span.
Examining the story of the R8 e-tron, it becomes rather obvious that Audi’s EV unicorn had an steep climb to conquer. As a vehicle to showcase the German automaker’s battery and electrical systems calibration know-how, the car was something of a triumph. However, with an asking price of over $1,000,000 US Dollars, and most likely cost nearly as much for Audi to build.
A report from Car and Driver says that the units that were built and sold on within Europe and through Audi HQ in Ingolstadt instead of the typical dealer pipeline. What’s more, Audi and other such premium carmakers usually have a lot of information about a certain car, with online prices, printed brochures and interactive configurators and such. Buyers of the R8 e-tron, the few there were, did not have that luxury.
The official line suggests that it wasn’t the slow sales that ultimately sealed the EV supercar’s fate. Audi, together with parent company Volkswagen, are preparing for an ambitious assault on mass market electric cars. A plan in which the R8 e-tron had no place.
The 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 engine of the conventional R8 was swapped for dual electric motors in the e-tron. Powered by a 92kWh battery that Audi claims could offer up to 450km of range per charge, it was capable of producing 340kW and 922Nm of torque.
However, it wasn’t the first time that the car was shelved and then resurrected. Back in 2012, Audi came close to introducing the e-tron as a series production model, but this time based on the original curvier first-generation R8. Following its motor show premiere, it was announced that the project was put on hold. It wouldn’t be until 3 years later that we were treated to its incarnation.
Now, though, Audi will be taking the technology gained from the R8 e-tron programme to improve the hybrids in its current line-up as well as introduce newer, less expensive fully electric vehicles in the near future, as something of a parallel to Volkswagen’s mass market EV offensive which begins with the IQ.