Audi cancels R8 e-tron, again

Audi R8 e-tron

Audi’s R8 e-tron launched at the 2015 Geneva auto show has been canceled.

It’s not clear how many have actually been delivered but an Audi spokesman confirmed to Car and Driver that the number is “fewer than 100.”

We bet it’s a lot fewer than 100, considering the reported asking price is 1 million euros (approximately $1.1 million). We should remind you that the car is slower than the Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA] Model S P90D on sale at the same time, and it likely had less range too. It was never EPA-tested but claimed to deliver 280 miles on the much more lenient European cycle. Little wonder the car was never sold in the U.S.

Audi first hinted at an electric version of its R8 supercar in 2009 when it rolled out the R8 e-tron concept car, based on the first-generation R8.

2009 Audi R8 e-Tron Concept

The concept was quickly confirmed for production but by the time it was ready for sale Tesla’s [NSDQ:TSLA] Model  S was already in showrooms, offering similar performance numbers but far better range—and a much smaller price tag.

Audi gave up on the R8 e-tron in 2013, but a year later when it became clear electric cars were starting to be seen in a positive light among tech-savvy buyers, Audi decided to give it a second go. The pace and range were improved, but Tesla’s updates to the Model S were even better and by then Mercedes-AMG also had the SLS AMG Electric Drive, which proved quicker than the Audi and offered better range too.  

Nevertheless, Audi pressed on, and with the arrival of the second-generation R8 in 2015 it was decided that an e-tron option would be offered. The car ended up with a peak output of 456 horsepower and 678 pound-feet of torque from a pair of electric motors mounted at the rear, making this the only rear-wheel-drive car in Audi’s fleet. It could accelerate from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds and had a top speed of 130 mph, though with an option to lift this to 155 mph.

A bit more than a year on from its Geneva auto show debut, the R8 e-tron has been canceled, this time likely for good. The good news is that lessons learned in its development will benefit a new generation of more practical electric Audis, starting with an SUV in 2018.