The latest buzzword in the automotive industry is “electric”. You can thank Toyota’s Prius, Elon Musk, and movies like Who Killed / Revenge of the Electric Car for that. As more and more companies move towards electrification, they’re pushing battery technology forward – and it’s changing rapidly, with performance going up as prices come down. Suddenly, Mercedes had an all-electric supercar. Then, it was BMW, with its stunning i8. Now, however, it’s Audi’s turn – and the latest rumor is that Audi’s R8 e-tron is on track for a 2015 release.
When Audi first teased us with the prospect of an electric Audi R8, the car promised thrilling performance but an underwhelming range of “just” 130 miles. It wasn’t enough, and the concept was shelved quietly in 2013. Such is the pace of battery technology, however, that the batteries in the new-for-2015 Audi R8 e-tron have pushed its range up to 280 miles …
… which the bigwigs at Volkswagen and Audi seem to believe is close enough to the electric car industry’s standard-bearing Tesla Model S’ 300-ish mile range to make a flagship EV worth a go, production-wise.
Audi’s R8 e-tron will act as a “halo car”, drawing foot traffic into Audi showrooms as the brand releases more electrified sedans and SUVs, with plans to include electrification and hybridization across the company’s product lineup.
Now, while the future definitely seems electric, I have to wonder if electrics are really the way to go. Before I buy an electric car, for example, I’d want to know where I’ll be able to plug it in, and how long will I have to wait until I have enough “juice” to get home. And, because many electrics cost more than a conventional car, how many of miles will I have to drive before I get my money back? Of course, very little of that matters to the big manufacturers, like Volkswagen/Audi, who are scared to death that an already-disruptive Tesla will start to cut into their business in a big way once its more mainstream “Model E” (or, whatever that’s finally called, anyway) hits the market and the Hybrid and EV-only laws proposed by China and the UK (two hugely important markets for the Audi R8) go into effect.
With that in mind, Audi may be smart to commit to a full line of electric vehicles. In catching Tesla, will Audi be getting ahead of the rest of the OEMs? Let us know what you think in the comments section, below.