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2013 Audi R8 e-tron Test Mule Spy Shots

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It looks like Audi is going to meet its stated goal of producing the R8 e-tron--albeit in limited numbers--by 2012. Due later this year as a test fleet of just 1,000 cars, the R8 e-tron is expected to cost about 100,000 euros--or about $131,000 at today's exchange rates. Just yesterday, we brought you the first spy images of the new e-tron, and today, we add the first shots of the car testing on the Nurburgring.

The images show what looks more or less like a normal R8, except that it has no tail pipes, the window for what would be the engine bay is opaque, and it wears an e-tron badge on its hood, as well as vinyl e-tron lettering on the sides and windshield. Minimal air inlets up front--presumably to reduce drag--are also visible, while a high-voltage sign on the driver's side rear quarter window cautions of the danger of electric shock. The license plate says "HOCHVOLT," German for "high-voltage."

This lack of secrecy in the nature of the car might seem somewhat counter-productive to actually operating in secret, but Audi doesn't appear to be concerned with flying under the spies' radar. In fact, the prototype spotted in testing here is dead ringer for the car shown in Audi's latest official video demonstrating the process of creating the sound for the R8 e-tron. Even with that official peek at the car, this is our first and best look at the near-production version of the car yet.

With development nearing completion, at least for a small limited-edition fleet's purposes, we're likely to see more of the R8 e-tron over the coming months. Stay tuned for more details, and be sure to read up on the R8 e-tron if you've forgotten its key stats.
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