Audi R-Zero Electric Sports Car

It appears that Audi will be the latest car manufacturer to jump on the electric sports car craze with their R-Zero concept car, which is a mix between an “Audi TT, Nissan 350Z and an Infiniti G35 Coupe.”

Not a bad mix.

Obviously, the thing that will set the R-Zero apart from its sports car contemporaries is the fact that it will be powered by an electric engine.  Inevitably, the R-Zero may end up more like the Tesla Roadster than any of the previously mentioned cars.

The R-Zero will be powered by nearly a ton and a half of lithium-ion batteries, which will push the overall weight of the vehicle to nearly 5,000 pounds.  Amazingly, the R-Zero will still be able to achieve a top speed of well over 250 miles per hour.

While the R-Zero is still in the concept phase (meaning it’s going to be a long time before this vehicle is ready for production) it is anticipated that it may be ready for release for the 2010 model year.  By then, cars like the Tesla Roadster will have been out for a few years, so Audi will be able to gauge the real demand for high powered electric sports cars.

While it’s fairly obvious that many people find these concept vehicles to be interesting and nice to look at, it remains to be seen if any of this interest will translate in to purchases.

It seems to me that these car manufacturers would be better served working on electric cars that are affordable and practical as opposed to expensive and high end.  But, what do I know?

Comments

  1. Definitely not the latest, but you are the latest to pick it up! This is news from June. Old stuff therefore.

  2. Concept cars are so last century. Cars that senior management doesn’t believe in, that marketing can’t sell and that engineering doesn’t want to make.

    It -cannot- possibly take 20 years to develop an engine that runs on something that’s not petroleum based, certainly not after we developed the rocket engine. Besides that, they said that 20 years ago, and they’re still saying that it’s going to take 15 to 20 years to develop it. How many times 20 years do you need to build something that simply burns fuel [whatever fuel] and converts energy to motion?

  3. Jorge, making a car that runs on alternative fuels isn’t the problem. The problem is refuelling stations for said cars. Electric cars would require plugins at your work parking space that unauthorized people couldn’t steal. Extended road trips would require some form of quick charging stations along the way, or “battery swaps”. It’s very complicated and when you look at the big picture, very BIG.

    Hydrogen cars need a hydrogen fuelling station of some type, which is leading to problems with delivery. Simple hydrogen is the smallest molecule there is and leaks out of nearly everything. So then we have hydrogen fuel cells, which would also require a brand new infrastructure to deliver the store energy to your car.

  4. i think this concept would be better equipped for the market if it were a lightweight sport coupe that was powered completely by batteries and performed similarly to a 350Z.

    until then, i won’t buy one.

  5. Someone’s obviously forgetting something important. Lithium ion batteries start to degrade after two years. Who’s going to want ot replace “nearly a ton and a half of lithium-ion batteries” as a part of regular maintenance? This and the Tesla are pure concept cars, there’s no way they’ll be productized with this technology. There are better batteries in development though, so maybe in a few years.

  6. You have to remember, too, that carting a ton and a half of batteries around takes energy, too. Take your pickup, throw 3,000 lb(!) in the back, and watch you mileage go south, big-time. So next you have to look at the power source (i.e., your local generating station) and decide if the gain in efficiency and pollution control is offset by the obvious inefficencies of carting 3,000 lb. of batteries around.

    Electric motors aren’t light weight, either, but for talking purposes I’m assuming parity with the IC motor and transmission, etc…

    Here’s a thought about biologically-derived fuels: They don’t add any carbon dioxide to the carbon cycle that wasn’t already there. A plant pulls CO2 from the air and returns O2 to the air. When we burn bio-fuels, we’re simply sending back CO2 that was in the cycle to begin with. Perhaps at a faster rate, but, hey, this isn’t a tech forum!

  7. *** Not only do li-poly batteries start to degrade after a couple of years, but they are EXPLOSIVE ***

    Look at the current problems with Sony’s exploding laptop batteries.

    I fly electric R/C airplanes (where we also push a LOT of energy out of li-poly batteries) and we are having SERIOUS problems with the batteries degrading or individual cells ballooning, bursting and CATCHING FIRE. Go read some of the reports on ezone.com.

    I could see some serious insurance lawsuits happening very quickly as the ambulance-chasing lawyers get wind to the fact that car companies are putting batteries with KNOWN problems on the road.

    I’m all for electric cars, but we need to find a better way to store the stuff….

  8. Try to stop a 5000 lb. car going 250 mph. Thats the problem

  9. Sony’s batteries explode because of a design that allows short circuits to develop. I don’t think the L Ion technology is to blame.

    Besides, how much worse could it be than driving around 15 gallons of explosive petrochemicals?? The modern automobile is pretty much a steel encased molotoff cocktail.

  10. JOHN KNOX says:

    The thinking behind cars like the Tesla Roadster is actually on the money in my book.

    Who’s going to plunk down the money for these first few models? Early adopters after the ‘cool’ things. By aiming at the high-performance model first, they can charge more and afford more research on how to bring the costs, weight etc down.

    Tesla’s business model is right on from my way of thinking and they’ve come up with a car that’s pretty darned sharp too.

    Let me put it a different way. Would I rather drive a Tesla Roadster or what Detroit tried to shove down our throats in California – the Saturn EV-1. I’ll take the Tesla Roadster thanks.

    J

  11. But what we fail to get here is that plug-in electrics simply move the source. We generate with oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, etc. Hydro is a good source, but wind, solar and other renewables are a sliver of the mix.

    So if you start hauling around 3000 lb of batteries, you’re using exactly the same energy to move those beauties as if you put 3000 lb of concrete block in your trunk, especially around town, where starting and stopping consume the lion’s share of the energy. Regenerative braking would help here, but I understand the hybrids have this already.

    Sure, I’d prefer the Tesla Roadster to a hybrid. But I’m not so sure that these things are the answer to fossil fuel consumption. As it stands now, they actually lead to increased overall energy consumption.

  12. One new car that you might not know of is the XEBRA, from ZAP (www.zapworld.com). The Xebra is the only all electric car available and affordable in the market right now. It is not a sports car like the Tesla Roadster, it is designed to be driven around the city, like taking the kids to school, grocery shopping and etc. It plugs into any conventional outlet. ZAP is and advanced techonology company that distributes alternative transportation and the XEBRA is something unique that you might want to check out.

  13. if it perfomed like the Z, i’d get it too.

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