Audi R8 (2015): tech chief confirms plug-in hybrid and EV

Published: 07 October 2014

The new 2015 Audi R8 isn’t far away: CAR understands that it’ll arrive next summer, with production slated to start in June 2015. And the R8 Mk2 will aim to electrify the sports car market in more ways than one: two electric versions were confirmed to us by Audi’s tech chief.

Speaking to CAR at the Paris motor show, Audi board member for R&D Ulrich Hackenberg said that both a plug-in hybrid R8 and a pure electric R8 E-tron were on the cards.

‘We are able to make the R8 a plug-in hybrid,’ he said. ‘The Lamborghini Asterion shows this is possible – that car uses the platform of the R8. We will see an increase in the efficiency of high-performance cars – they have to meet CO2 regulations of the future in order to survive.’

Audi R8: a plug-in hybrid and a pure EV R8 E-tron

Hackenberg said that Audi continued to chase several technologies in this fractured tech landscape. No longer can a car maker put all their eggs in one basket. And it’s worth looking elsewhere in the Volkswagen empire for inspiration on some of the new technical solutions looming.

‘The R8 successor will come next year [2015] and we have developed a platform that you can see in the Lamborghini Huracan today. We will have different powertrains available, though. And in the R8 E-tron we will have more than 400km (250 miles) range.’

Two alternatively fuelled Audi R8s! How time’s are changing…

Indeed. It is likely that the R8 will arrive first with conventional engines; the hybrid and EV versions are expected to follow later in the car’s lifecycle, to rival cars such as BMW’s i8.

We’ll see the new R8 coupe first in summer 2015, followed by the R8 Spyder a year later in mid-2016.

Audi R8 manual RIP

A choice of V8 and V10 engines remains, but we’re sad to report the demise of the tactile delight of a manual gearchange. The Mk1 R8 took over where Ferrari left off, with a wonderfully showsome chromed open gate, letting keen drivers click-clack their way around one of the slickest sports car transmissions around.

But separate sources at Audi have confirmed to CAR that only the DL800 dual-clutch gearbox will be offered on the R8 Mk2. A sad reflection that manuals may entertain petrolheads, but they increasingly don’t sell.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet