Audi Sport intends to double sales by 2023. Some of these volumes will come from conquering new markets. The new RS6 Avant is for example available for the first time in the United States. But what about electrification? What will become of the R8? This is what Oliver Hoffmann, the managing director of Audi Sport, thinks about it.
" The decision has not yet been made on the next generation R8 technology and platform. But it will have to meet all the regulations in the world, which means that it will necessarily be electrified in one way or another. On the other hand, the current model is the basis of our customer competition program and we must continue to meet this demand in the future. "
It's already a few things to digest. First, it means there will be a third generation of R8. However, the current R8 did not sell as well as its predecessor. Competition has intensified, prices have risen.
Sales have thus stagnated around 1,200 cars per year in Europe. This blow led Audi to put the package on the R8 GT3 and GT4 customer competition, which share a good half of their parts with the R8 series and were aligned on more than 700 races last year. What Dr. Hoffmann suggests is that the brand will have to honor this commitment in racing. And that pleads much more in favor of hybridization than a 100% electric car.
" We work closely with the race guys around battery technology, power electronics, and all of those things. It would be an opportunity to reflect our experience in motorsport on our production cars. "
The current R8 shares its underwear with the Lamborghini Huracán which has every interest in not giving up its V10 in favor of a V8 turbo like at Ferrari or McLaren, under penalty of losing its trump card. The R8 and the Huracán could therefore keep their V10 and simply hybridize it.
The R8 is produced on the same site in Neckarsulm as the imminent e-tron GT, cousin of the Porsche Taycan which, like the latter, should approach 800 hp. Next to, or in comparison to the PB18 e-tron concept of Pebble Beach 2018 which had paved the way for a future 100% electric R8, a hybrid V10 risks passing for a short term solution…
I ask Dr. Hoffmann about the power numbers, and ask him if it's starting to peak.
" There is a strong demand from our customers for ever more power. And electrification is a pillar of our future, to comply with all environmental regulations around the world but also to gain power. It is therefore an opportunity to take a step in the total power of the system. I remember that a few years ago, everyone was only talking about downsizing and weight reduction, but power is always at the center of our customers' concerns. And the electrification of platforms is a solution to meet this demand. "
Yes, but what about the weight? " This is the challenge for the next generation of RS models. We are going to electrify our range, and weight is always the main constraint when developing hybrid cars. "
And the sound? " We are working very hard to design a specific electric sound. One solution is to artificially reproduce the noise of a heat engine, but that is not the right answer. In my opinion, the future is for a special sound for electric cars, and distinctive between brands. "
So that's what awaits us at Audi Sport: the electrification is on, and the next cars will be more efficient and heavier. Routine, finally.