As we've reported, the future of the Audi R8 doesn’t look bright. The world is increasingly shifting from internal combustion engines to electric powertrains, and that’s doubly true inside the walls of Audi's owner, the Volkswagen Group. But while the gas-guzzling R8 we’ve known and loved for the last several years is unlikely to continue on in its current form, electric vehicle maker Rimac could ensure a viable future for an Audi supercar.
According to a Thursday report by the UK’s Car, Audi has reached out to Rimac for help with developing a possible battery-powered R8 replacement known as the RS e-Tron. Formerly thought to be called e-Tron GTR, the RS e-Tron would retain the R8’s sleek, supercar styling, but would replace the car’s V-10 engine with four high-performance electric motors sourced from Rimac.
To rein in development costs, Audi is considering basing the RS e-Tron on the J1 platform that’s set to underpin the all-electric Porsche Taycan. Of note, Porsche currently owns a 10-percent stake in Rimac.
Car's sources say the electric supercar would likely use solid-state batteries to differentiate the RS e-Tron from other electric models like the Taycan. Although that kind of battery tech isn’t ready for prime time today, it should be available when the RS e-Tron would be launched in either 2023 or 2024.
Those solid state batteries, which are expected to have a 95-kwh rating, are reported to provide enough juice to support a total system output of 950 horsepower. Range is said to be about 300 miles, and the car will reportedly be capable of charging wirelessly.
Should the car come to fruition, a light-weight aluminum chassis and all-wheel drive will help to provide impressive performance. Early reports suggest the RS e-Tron will be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds. A top speed in excess of 200 mph is not out of the question. That will reportedly be aided by active aerodynamics.
Although the RS e-Tron is setting up to be the spiritual successor to the R8, that won’t necessarily be the case when it comes to price. The current R8 lists from $170,000, but the RS e-Tron is expected to carry a base price that's even higher, at around $223,000.
Production of the RS e-Tron is likely slated for the Audi plant near Heilbronn, Germany, where the current A6, A7, and A8 are built.
Should it happen, the Audi RS e-tron won’t be the only supercar featuring hardware from Rimac. Pininfarina will soon join the supercar EV ranks with its Battista, which uses a 1,877-horsepower electric drivetrain sourced from the Croatia-based electric car maker.