To many devoted petrol heads, powering a car with electricity is boring, and it can lead to that newly-coined disorder; Range Anxiety. While Pfizer scientists are probably hard at work, developing a pill for the disorder, we can think of another, more entertaining cure. How ‘bout electrifying a supercar, then using it to set a new lap record at the Green Monster? Such a car would certainly turn heads at the Friday night cruise.
Well, that’s just what Audi did. They took an Audi R8, and fitted it with 4 electric motors (2 on each axle) capable of driving all four wheels, with a rear-biased power split. Power is stored in a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, which runs the length of the center tunnel, forking off behind the passenger compartment. It can be charged with a power chord, and it receives constant charges from the regenerative braking system. The Audi R8 E Tron system will store 49 kWh of electricity, which is enough juice to propel the 3,900 lb supercar for a distance of 133 miles.
Now, that’s all well and good. 4 wheels – 4 electric motors. Heck, Mercedes does the same thing on the forthcoming Mercedes SLS E-Cell (slated to launch around the same as the R8 E-Tron). But here’s the thing; The Mercedes electric system generates 529-hp & 649 lb-ft of torque, whereas Audi Power & Light generates 375-hp, and, wait for it, 3,614 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough twist to launch a small satellite into orbit.
Okay, so we have an impossibly torquey supercar, that runs on Ben Franklin fuel. Cool. When I was a kid, I had a ride-on Rolls Royce Corniche that was battery powered. Big deal. What Audi needs is a way to show the world just how sporty their new CEO Toy is. Flogging it around Europe’s best known race track would do the trick. And that’s just what they did.
Piloted by Markus Winkelhock (the same driver that just won the 24-hours at Nurburgring in a V-10 powered Audi R8), the battery powered Audi R8 E-Tron lapped the 12-mile Nurburgring circuit in 8:09.09. Which is nearly as fast as an Audi RS4 ran it in 2006. The production Audi R8 E-Tron will have an electronically-limited top speed of 124-mph. Winkelhock’s car had a reprogrammed top speed of 155.34 mph, which made the record setting lap possible. Set to production limits, Winkelhock’s best lap time was 8:26.
The Audi R8 E-Tron is expected to debut later this year, for a limited production run. So if your net worth exceeds 7-figures, this would be an awesome christmas gift alternative to the ambiguous antique Lionel train set.