The Audi R8 e-tron weighs in at 1,780 kilograms (3,924.23 lb). Its body structure, including the side sections, weighs just 199 kilograms (438.72 lb), 23 kilograms (50.71 lb) less than that of the R8 Coupé, which already sets the bar very high with its aluminum-based ASF principle (Audi Space Frame). Here, Audi presents a new stage in the development of its ultra lightweight construction technology – a Multimaterial Space Frame, in which large parts made of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) supplement the aluminum frame.
The CFRP components contribute 23 percent and the metal parts 75 percent of the bodyshell weight; miscellaneous materials make up the remainder. The forward structure of the R8 e-tron is a classic aluminum design. The dominant material in the occupant cell is CFRP, with the tail end using a blend of both materials. The supporting trunk insert of CRFP incorporates corrugated crash structures that mean the rear module can absorb five times as much energy as an aluminum lattice structure. For the B-posts and rear bulkhead, a new sandwich concept reduces the weight by 11.5 kilograms (25.35 lb).
The lithium-ion battery, too, is a reflection of the development expertise of Audi – it was designed and built in-house. Bolted to the structure at 40 points, it functions as a supporting element that more than doubles the rigidity of the Multimaterial Space Frame. The battery incorporates 530 prismatic flat cells. Taking the shape of a T, the battery is 235 centimeters (92.52 in) long, 135 centimeters (53.15 in) wide and, control unit included, 71 centimeters (27.95 in) high. Around the tunnel there are two floors with cell modules one above the other; at the rear end there are four floors.
There are two options available for charging the battery: A full charge with 230-volt alternating current from the domestic mains takes about twelve hours. Charging with direct current cuts the time required to less than one hour, depending on the connected load. The driver can control and monitor a wide range of functions and information remotely by smartphone app, including the charge status, the interior heating and the range display. This is a customized service from Audi connect, which is also used in a very similar form in models such as the A3 Sportback e-tron.
The battery is also recharged while on the road by means of energy recovery during retardation phases. The driver chooses the degree of energy recovery in three stages (plus freewheeling) at paddles on the steering wheel. The rate is especially high when braking because up to about 0.3 g the electric motors normally handle retardation on their own. Beyond that the front brake system then gradually comes into play, and the electric motors can recover up to 0.45 g. The newly developed electric individual-wheel traction control (eASR) maintains excellent stability when braking, and provides compelling traction when accelerating.
The two electric motors on the rear axle of the Audi R8 e-tron enable electric torque vectoring, the targeted braking and acceleration of individual wheels for on-demand torque distribution during fast cornering. Thanks to the separate activation of the electric motors and their spontaneous behavior, this function is highly variable and fast; in theory the high-performance sports car can brake one wheel while powering the other with high torque.
With a total of 280 kW and 820 Nm (604.80 lb-ft) available virtually from off, the electric motors give the Audi R8 e-tron impressive performance. They catapult it from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.2 seconds, and top speed is limited to 200 km/h (124.27 mph). In the test-bench cycle, one battery charge is sufficient for driving over 215 kilometers (133.59 miles).
The electric motors achieve over 95 percent efficiency over a wide range; ungoverned, they could rev up to 12,500 rpm, which would make them capable of a speed of more than 250 km/h (155.34 mph). Designed as permanently excited synchronous machines, they deliver a high performance and torque density and can also run efficiently on a small amount of electricity. The stator temperature is controlled by a water jacket, and the air additionally cooled by an air flow. The single-stage planetary gears are incorporated into the cooling circuit.
The Audi R8 e-tron is fitted with size 225/35 and 275/35 tires with optimized rolling resistance. From about 50 km/h (31.07 mph), adjustable flaps close the apertures in the 19-inch wheels by centrifugal force; at low speeds they open again. The active aerodynamic wheels trim about 0.02 off the cD value.