New bar set for production electric vehicles – will Tesla meet the challenge?
By Will Dron on June 29, 2012 3:02 PM
Following Audi’s success with the R18 e-tron hybrid at the Le Mans 24-hour race, the company has now set a new lap record for pure-electric production vehicles around the 13-mile Nürburging Nordschleife with its 2012 Audi R8 e-tron.
Former F1 and DTM driver Markus Winkelhock set a time of 8min 9.099sec around the infamous circuit, which is just five seconds slower than the 424bhp 4.2-litre V8 petrol-powered Audi R8 on which the electric car is based.
The record was set using the same electric drivetrain as the one found in the production car due to be handed over to customers at end of this year, although the speed limiter was raised from the standard 125mph to an approved 155mph for the record attempt.
“The record-setting drive confirmed that we are on the right track,” said Michael Dick, Audi AG board member for Technical Development. “To us, electric mobility has never been about sacrifice, but rather is about emotion, sportiness and driving pleasure.”
The Audi R8 e-tron uses twin electric motors that develop 380hp and 820Nm of torque; a claimed 4,900Nm (3,614lb-ft) is distributed to the rear wheels from a standing start. Under ‘normal’ conditions, the range of the car from its 49kWh lithium ion battery is 134 miles.
The record for pure-electric vehicles was first set in May last year with the one-off Peugeot EX1 concept, but that was smashed in August by Toyota Motorsport with its Radical-based TMG EV P001 track car, which set a time of 7min 47.794sec. However, the Toyota is a competition vehicle and so doesn’t fit into the same class as the Audi.
“Of course, the R8 e-tron is a production car, not a racing car with the assistance of aerodynamics,” Winkelhock said afterwards. “But with its low centre of gravity and rear-biased weight distribution, it brings with it a lot of sporty qualities. The torque with which the electric motors propel the car uphill beats everything that I know – even if they make hardly any noise in the process, which at the start was really a completely new experience for me. In places where I really need traction, the torque vectoring – the displacement of the torque between the powered wheels – really helps me.”
Another interesting comparison would be to see how the Audi R8 e-tron stacks up against the Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport; the Tesla can accelerate to 60mph in 3.7sec, while the Audi’s 0 to 62mph time is 4.6sec. According to Tesla, there has been no official lap time set with the Roadster… yet. A spokesperson told us Tesla would very much like to see what the Roadster can do around the Nordschleife, although within-the-rules tweaks would need to be made to the car first – as with the Audi, the speed limiter would need to be adjusted, for starters.
Just in case you’re wondering how the R8 e-tron fares around the track with the standard 125mph speed limit, Audi obliged with a further two laps, setting times of 8min 30.873sec and 8min 26.096sec respectively.
Watch some raw footage of the run here (thanks to Audi for the video):