Audi boosted its green credentials at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week by unveiling an electric-only version of its iconic R8 supercar. Dubbed the e-tron, this futuristic coupe looks set to give its petrol-powered grandfather a run for its money, and bring real innovation to the world of electric cars.
Whereas most electric cars need to be plugged into the mains, this bad boy can be topped up over the air. That's right, folks, Audi is developing a secret inductive charging station that hurls electricity through the air and safely into the e-tron's 42.4kWh (53kWh peak) lithium-ion battery pack. Finally, an electric supercar that doesn't discriminate against poor garageless people who live in high-rise tower blocks!
Like the standard R8, the e-tron is a true Quattro, inheriting four-wheel drive courtesy of four individual electric motors -- two at the front, and two at the rear. Combined, they produce a very healthy 230kW (313bhp), but it's the torque figure that has our tongues lolling in the breeze. According to Audi, the combined number is a whopping 4,500Nm (3,319lb-ft) -- about eight times as much as you get with a Ferrari 458 Italia.
The e-tron's 0-60mph time of 4.8 seconds isn't as impressive as the Italia's, or indeed the 4.1-second sprint time of the petrol-powered R8, but with so much torque available, the e-tron's accelerative force shouldn't diminish significantly as the vehicle's speed increases. By way of proof, Audi says the e-tron will go from 60 to 120kmph (37-75mph) in 4.1 seconds.
Audi is dreaming up a number of other technological advances that should feature in the e-tron. The most significant of these is a 'car-to-x communication' system, which allows the vehicle to talk to compatible fixed infrastructure such as traffic lights as well as other vehicles. It's all rather pie in the sky right now, but the theory states your e-tron will be able to send out warnings to other drivers if it's spun out on a blind bend, or intelligently navigate its way to an empty space in a cramped car park.
Obviously, the e-tron is just a concept car, but we're crossing our fingers, toes and other appendages it'll hit the streets sometime in the near future. After all, the Tesla Roadster was just a dream a few short years ago, and if anyone can make the e-tron happen, it's the Damen und Herren at Audi.
We'll have more on this car as it breaks, but in the meantime, check out the pics in our gallery for additional information and more pics.