The tried and failed Audi R8 e-tron is one of the sadder failures among recent automotive history. It was a car that featured stunning good looks, impressive performance and a completely electric powertrain. Thanks to packaging issues, it was also rear-wheel drive, making it the only Audi of its kind. It was so cool Iron Man drove one. However, due to extreme cost and technical limitations, Audi only sold it for a few months and ended up scrapping the project. But current head of development at Audi, Peter Mertens, recently explained that the brand wants to bring that sort of car back.
“You can very well imagine that at some point we will have an electric supercar,” Mertens told Car and Driver, among other journalists, at the Berlin Formula E race. “The question is, ‘Would I like to make it happen sooner?’ and the answer is, ‘Yes, of course.’ It is part of our plan. We’re not going to talk about that today, but 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, we have been a very serious player.”
But Mertens doesn’t only want to make electric supercars but quite a few electric performance cars. Though, he does say that they will likely come as plug-in hybrids, rather than full-on EVs. So will we see a hybrid Audi RS car soon? Mertens seems to think so. “We believe in that technology, specifically in regard to performance. Is plug-in technology a bridge? Yes, it is, but it’s also a fantastic technology for really delivering performance.”
Audi will also consider using 800-volt charging technology, which would allow its cars to charge in almost no time. Porsche has been working on 800-volt charging for its Mission-E Concept. So it’s possible Audi could borrow some of that tech, being that the two brands currently share engines. Though, 800-volt charging would likely only be on a supercar, due to cost. “800-volt puts a significant extra cost on the bill. We need to evaluate whether customers will be prepared to pay that,” he said. “In segments like super sports cars, it will be yes, no doubt about it.”
So we could very well see an e-tron model in the next generation of Audi RS models. Whether the brand makes an electric supercar as a flagship first is yet to be seen. But expect something of the sort in the not-so-distant future.