German car manufacturer Audi is ending plans to put the stunning R8 E-Tron electric supercar on the assembly line, according to media reports.
The move puts an end to the prospect of motorists buying the car, a much-talked about electric supercar. This decision will also most likely bring the demise of the more humble electric Audi A2 and the Audi A3 e-tron.
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There were already doubts about Audi's commitment to electric cars. Back in June 2012, reports across the media indicated the manufacturer had already scrapped the electric A2 and the A1 e-tron hatchbacks.
The various motives behind this decision reportedly include the lack of consumer demand and the high production costs and on-the-road prices these new electric models would carry. This caused Audi to review whether the production of electric and hybrid cars was a viable strategy for the company.
Reports also suggest that Audi were put off by the struggling performance of electric cars already on sale.
One particular noticeable example in the industry is the Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn, two compact electric city cars which share the same platform. Back in August this year, it was reported that the cars originally maker Mitsubishi would stop producing the EV for both French manufacturers due to poor sales.
Research for car sales in the first half of 2012 showed there have been just 852 registrations for the Peugeot Ion and 935 sales for the Citroen C-Zero.
Today's move by Audi however doesn't strictly mean the erasure of the Audi R8 e-tron all together. A concept of the R8 e-tron was first revealed all the back during the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, with a view to put in production by within four years.
Earlier this year Audi were continuing to develop the R8 e-tron for production readiness, and even tested the electric supercar around the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife race circuit.
Even with electric production cars scrapped, Audi is reportedly still committed to its original plan to produce ten units of the R8 e-tron for evaluation; none of these models will go on sale to the public however.
While the evaluation plan may give some hope to the idea Audi may change its mind, it is also reported the R8 e-tron suffers many of the cost issues which have led Audi to scrap electric production plans to begin with.
Audi has also done a similar evaluation programme for the A3 e-tron electric hatchback. While there is little mention of it in reports, the A3 e-tron is likely to meet a similar faith to the R8 e-tron, staying out the hands of potential customers.
Sketches of the Audi A2 city car were previously presented during the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show
Future hybrid car strategy
While Audi is backing away from purely electric-powered vehicles, the manufacturer is reportedly committed to focusing on plug-in petrol-electric hybrid vehicles, which it sees as an all-round more viable path with cheaper production costs and issues like range anxiety removed.
Audi already has plans in place to produce hybrid versions of the majority of its current range, including the A1 supermini, A3 hatchback, A4 and A6 family cars and Q7 SUV.
Written by Stephen Goldasz