Audi first revealed its electric car project at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September last year with the R8 e-tron, an electric car based on the R8 and featuring four electric motors creating a quattro EV. Audi then went on to reveal their second e-tron at the Detroit Motor Show � the Audi R4 e-tron � which seems to preview a new R4 model from Audi and finally the latest � and most convincing e-tron � the Audi A1 e-tron at the Geneva Motor Show last week.

But so far we�ve not seen any of the e-trons on the move. Audi admit that despite some ludicrous claims for the torque figures on the R8 e-tron (which they�re still repeating in this VT), the car they showed at Frankfurt couldn�t actually function under its own steam. But with confirmation that the R8 e-tron is to go in to limited production in 2012 it was quite important to get the e-tron on the move, literally as well as in the sense of moving it to production.

And Audi do now have a working prototype of the R8 e-tron which they�ve been out playing with on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. Realistically the R8 e-tron is never going to be anything other than an experiment to show what can be done, even if Audi do intend building a limited run to sell to people who just must have an EV sports car.

The real future for the e-tron is in the guise of the A1 e-tron, where sensible performance and usability in cities is augmented by a range extending Wankel engine. It shows just how practical and useful an electric car can be in urban environments. But that�s the only place an electric car will ever really work.

The R8 e-tron is a vanity product with no real world applications. But it works. And it looks good.


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