Four-ring performance electric vehicles are on the horizon
RS versions of Audi’s zero-emission battery electric vehicles coming writes Michael Taylor
The go-fast Audi Sport division will plump out its line-up from 10 cars to 16 within the next three years — and at least one of them will be an electric car.
Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann has also confirmed that he has plans for three zero-emission RS models starting in 2020.
With three new RS models in 2017 alone (the TT RS, RS3 and RS5 coupe), Audi Sport has plans for another five new RS models by the end of 2018, including the R8 Spyder Plus, the RS4 sedan and wagon, the RS Q5, the RS5 cabriolet and the all-new RS6 and RS7.
But the biggest news is that next year’s e-tron SUV and the 2019 e-tron Sportback, both confirmed for production by Audi chairman Rupert Stadler, are already being tweaked for an RS badge.
Asked about all-electric RS models, Winkelmann confirmed the work was well under way.
"Today, what we know is that the first shot has to hit the target," Winkelmann said. "You have to be credible in what you deliver and the customers have to understand the weight, the range, top speed and how long you can hold top speed, acceleration and how many times you can accelerate like this and how many metres you can cover in the first 2.5 seconds.
"What we call ‘tomorrow’ is the period between 2020 and 2025, where we have to deliver the first electrification.
"There, we [Audi Sport] will not have all the wishes come true of what we want."
How the operation will boost the performance and handling sharpness of the Belgian-built e-trons hasn’t been revealed, however the 320kW standard electric powertrains could be boosted by some of its Le Mans-winning fast-discharge technology or other tricks from its Formula E campaign.
The e-tron SUV wouldn’t be the first Audi Sport electric car (it developed a stillborn R8 e-tron in the sports car’s first generation), but it would be the Neckarsulm-based company’s first production version.
Winkelmann also confirmed it wouldn’t take the seemingly obvious route to develop and build a battery electric vehicle (BEV) version of the R8 coupe or Spyder, which it already has significant experience with.
"We have shown the R8 Spyder V10 Plus and we are planning further derivatives, but there is no electrification plan," he said, explaining larger vehicles such as SUVs are more suited to packaging BEV batteries and electric motors.
"The body styles are important. For me, there are two that are feasible: one is a limousine and the other one is an SUV because of its packaging, roominess, weight, power.
"There is a higher credibility with these rather than a small coupe, which would promise something we cannot keep.
"After 2025, there will be a higher opportunity for the next step. Customers expect one day that a sports car is also a sustainable car, so there will be one day when that will happen.
"It will be important to make them understand what they bought today is different from what they bought yesterday and the game is starting with what the others are doing."