While most automakers are promoting their electric cars as a low cost and environmentally friendly option for urban commuting, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are taking a different route and are targeting the top end of town by promoting the performance aspects of electric propulsion--instantaneous torque.

Both Audi and Mercedes-Benz are racing to develop electric versions of their respective high-end sports cars, Audi with the R8 as a platform and Mercedes-Benz with the SLS AMG.

Audi appears to have the lead, having already shown off a concept version of its electric sports car, the R8 e-tron concept last year. Now the Ingolstadt-based automaker has taken the next step, presenting its R8 e-tron at one of the most important motorsport events on the calendar, this past weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Five-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela drove the purely electric powered sports car during the Le Mans vers le futur, a demonstration run for electric vehicles.

Not one, but four motors--two each on the front and rear axles--power the wheels of the Audi R8 e-tron, making the test vehicle a true quattro. With 313 horsepower and 3,319 pound-feet of torque, the two-seater accelerates from 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds. The top speed is limited to a relatively low (for a sports car) 125 mph, as the amount of energy required by the electric motors increases disproportionately to speed.

For more information on Audi’s future plans for its e-tron technology, check out our previous story by clicking here.