Last night, Audi unveiled the fully electric version of their R8, known as the E-Tron and today we got a chance to snap some photos and ask some questions. The car is of course modelled on their successful R8 platform. As a fully electric vehicle, you’ll notice some dramatic design decisions, compared to the petrol guzzling alternative.
First, there is the wheels, they smack you in the face and say hey, pay attention, I’m different. Fortunately, that difference is with good purpose. While Audi aren’t committing to these being the final production wheels, the idea here is to keep a flat surface which is dramatically better for aerodynamics, rather than your typical 5-spoke rims.
While we couldn’t get under the car today, we’re told the bottom of the vehicle is essentially a flat surface, also to help with aero and downforce. While there are some more chrome grills and flares here and there, largely this is the R8 you know and love, with an EV powerplant slapped in there.
So how far can those lithium-ion batteries get you on a single charge? That’s the big question with any EV, and I’m happy to report the range of the Audi R8 E-Tron, is around 450 kilometers. That number is pretty staggering given the vehicle’s performance objectives, but not unheard of, with Tesla’s 500km range remaining the top of the tree, while also delivering insane performance.
If you love the look of the E-tron, with it’s carbon-fibre side vents, complete with ambient LED’s and that very different dash, there’s some bad news. The car won’t be on sale until a 2016/17 timeframe.
Maybe even more important than the car itself, is how Audi are planning on charging it. Ok technically they’re not committing to having wireless charging on the E-Tron, but they are working on it for “future vehicles”. This is a platform, rather than a specific technology.
The Audi wireless charging (AWC) is designed to be integrated into the floor of your garage. When you drive your vehicle over it, it knows, then raises up to meet your vehicle, but doesn’t have to contact the vehicle at any point. Because of the reasonably large surface area, you don’t have to be too precise with your park.
The idea here is that the charging platform would raise up and down to meet the vehicle. This means it doesn’t matter if you’re in a low slung sports car, or in a raised SUV, the charging could work, just don’t make us wait too long for it Audi.
Naturally, Audi like every other auto manufacturer right now are going after the driverless vehicles, but there plans definitely feel like it’s very early days. Especially when we consider other manufacturer’s like Toyota who are aiming firmly at a driverless car in a showroom by 2020. This E-Tron will definitely be a piloted driving experience, but will likely ship with enough driver assists, that it’ll feel like your not the one doing the bulk of the work.