Though there's no official timekeeper for the Nurburgring's Nordscheife circuit, that hasn't stopped carmakers from setting record lap times on the track with their products, the latest of which is Audi and its R8 e-Tron electric car.
With race car driver Markus Winkelhock behind the wheel, the all-electric sports car navigated the 20.8km track in eight minutes and 9.099 seconds to set the "world record for a production vehicle with an electric drive system." As a point of comparison--and to emphasize how impressive that time is--the current lap record of a combustion-engined production car around the circuit is seven minutes and 11.57 seconds set by the Gumpert Apollo Sport, which was powered by a 691hp Audi V8 engine.
To further underscore the relevance of the R8 e-Tron's capability, Audi set another record on the Nordschleife. Immediately after setting the world-record time, Winkelhock drove two laps in one go in a second R8 e-Tron that had a limited top speed of 200kph. With times of eight minutes and 30.873 seconds and eight minutes and 26.096 seconds, respectively, both laps were well under the nine-minute threshold.
Powering the R8 e-Tron are two electric motors that have an output equivalent to 375hp and 820Nm of torque, letting it accelerate from zero to 100kph in just 4.6 seconds before it reaches its limited top speed of 200kph. For the record-setting lap, the R8 e-Tron's top speed was raised to 250kph.
With its rechargeable lithium-ion battery storing 49kWh of energy, the E-Tron has a driving range of around 215km. It can be charged by its energy recovery system whenever the car is coasting or braking. Another reason for the car's performance is its ultralight aluminum body that, together with its carbon-fiber components, gives it a weight of just 1,780kg.
"The R8 e-Tron has given a magnificent demonstration of its potential on the toughest racetrack in the world," said Audi AG board member for technical development, Michael Dick. "The record-setting drive confirmed that we are on the right track. To us, electric mobility has never been about sacrifice, but is rather about emotion, sportiness and driving pleasure."
Audi plans to put the R8 e-Tron out on the market "at the end of the year."
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