AFTER UNVEILING ITS all-electric e-tron concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month, Audi has now confirmed that it will enter the electric vehicle market with a production version of the e-tron by the end of 2012.
Near-production prototypes are expected to complete testing within the next 24 months. How similar the production version is to the e-tron concept, of course, remains to be seen.
Based on the R8's chassis, the e-tron concept was shown dressed in new sheetmetal with unique bumpers and sealed-off air intakes, vents and cooling apertures to improve aerodynamics.
Shown with a minimalist dashboard featuring an instrument binnacle with an integrated sat-nav screen recessed into the dash, with media interface controls and a start button in the console, the e-tron gave a glimpse of Audi's electric vehicle design directions.
A battery-electric vehicle, the e-tron concept is propelled by four electric motors - two on each axle. Audi described power output for the show concept as a (relatively) unexciting 230kW, but torque at a phenomenal 4500Nm.
Torque bias is designed at 70 percent rear, 30 percent front with the individual wheel motors allowing the e-tron to direct power to whichever corner needs it most in the blink of an eye.
To aid handling, the heavy battery pack sits behind the passenger cabin, with weight distribution described by Audi as 42/58 front-to-rear. Thanks to a lightweight aluminium and carbon-fibre chassis, total weight is 1600kg.
On a single charge, Audi says the e-tron can travel 248km before needing its batteries topped up.
Able to be charged from a 230 volt household outlet, Audi also claims a charging time of six to eight hours - 2.5 hours with a 400V power supply.
The debut of the e-tron concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show makes Audi the second European manufacturer to wheel out an all-electric concept supercar: Mercedes-Benz recently announced a battery-powered version of its upcoming SLS AMG, expected to launch sometime in the next decade.
With production models still a couple of years away, Audi fans can get their e-tron fix by logging onto Playstation Home and racing Audi's electric sportscar in the Vertical Run game.