Audi of America's President Johan de Nysschen may have put his foot in his mouth by calling buyers of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt "idiots," but Audi headquarters seems to like electric cars.
Enough, at any rate, to trumpet the complete specs of its all-wheel-drive, all-electric e-Tron concept car, revealed this morning at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
Or perhaps we should say concept supercar, since the e-Tron's performance figures clearly put it in that category.
For starters, the e-Tron has four electric motors, two at the front, two at the rear. The car's control electronics allocate torque among the wheels as required, making the concept a traditional Audi quattro.
Total combined torque is an almost incomprehensible 3300 foot-pounds, though the four motors together generate a relatively modest 230 kilowatts (313 horsepower). Torque is split 70 percent to the rear, 30 percent to the front.
But what about acceleration? The electric two-seater from Ingolstadt accelerates from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. And while the two-wheel-drive 2009 Tesla Roadster is 1 second quicker, the e-Tron concept is far more sophisticated and refined.
The water-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, mounted directly behind the passenger cabin ahead of the rear axle--where an engine used to sit--holds 42.4 kilowatt-hours of usable energy out of a 53-kWh total.
Top speed is electronically limited to 124 miles per hour. Charging time on European standard 230-Volt power is six to eight hours for a fully discharged battery pack. High-voltage charging, when available, cuts that to 2.5 hours.
As with all electric-drive cars, the battery pack is also recharged via regenerative braking. In addition, the Audi e-Tron has a single hydraulic disc brake on the front axle and two electrically-actuated floating caliper brakes at the rear, all controlled via an electronic brake-by-wire system.
Despite starting with an R8, weight was minimized, in part by using carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body panels over the R8's aluminum structure. Active air intakes in the grille and behind the doors open only as needed, minimizing aerodynamic drag otherwise.
The driver faces a large foldout display, flanked by a round power meter and speedometer on the left and right. All controls are operated via a touch-sensitive scroll pad on the steering wheel, which Audi says was inspired by the user interface of smartphones like the Apple iPhone.
Audi calls the e-Tron purely a concept, and has not indicated that the company is considering building it for sale.