Audi’s new development boss has hinted at an upcoming all-electric supercar, according to a new report out of the US this week.
Speaking with Car and Driver at the recent Formula E race in Berlin, Peter Mertens – who previously was the head of research and development at Swedish marque, Volvo – dropped a few clues as to what the German company’s plans are for its next generation of performance vehicles.
“You can very well imagine that at some point we will have an electric supercar,” he said.
“The question is, ‘Would I like to make it happen sooner?’ and the answer is, ‘Yes, of course.’ It is part of our plan,””I can tell you that for a brand like Audi, a supercar is always interesting, and it’s a segment in which we have been playing, [and] we have been a very serious player,” he added.
This won’t be the first time the company has produced an EV supercar, however. Audi has already made two-generations of the R8 e-tron (pictured), which was recently axed according to reports from overseas.
In its most recent iteration, the R8 e-tron was powered by two electric motors mounted on the rear axle – Audi was unable to make it all-wheel drive like its wider performance line-up due to technical challenges – developing combined outputs of 340kW and 920Nm, enough to send the electric supercar from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds.
A 92kWh lithium-ion battery pack gave the R8 e-tron a projected driving range of around 450 kilometres on a single charge, while a fast charger could replenish the vehicle’s power bank within two hours.
However, despite costing around one million euros ($1.47 million), the R8 e-tron couldn’t match its all-wheel driven V10 petrol-powered siblings for all-out performance, with the ‘regular’ R8 V10 sprinting from 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds and the hi-po R8 V10 Plus cutting that down to just 3.2 seconds.
Other than the electric drivetrain, the R8 e-tron’s point of difference was the standard fitment of Audi’s latest autonomous driving technology, but this didn’t help the electric supercar from selling “fewer than 100” units during its short two-year life cycle.
In addition to is comments regarding an electric supercar, Mertens said Audi is looking into even faster 800-Volt charging systems, and the potential for S- and RS-branded versions of its e-tron range.
“800-volt puts a significant extra cost on the bill. We need to evaluate whether customers will be prepared to pay that,” he said of 800V chargers.
“In segments like super sports cars, it will be yes, no doubt about it.”
“We believe in [hybrid] technology, specifically in regard to performance,” Mertens added with regards to electrified S and RS models.
“Is plug-in technology a bridge? Yes, it is, but it’s also a fantastic technology for really delivering performance.”