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Audi is ready to join the hypercar party

Project One-slaying hypercar is on the agenda, says Audi Sport boss

The boss of Audi Sport (formerly quattro GmbH) Stephan Winkelmann, has revealed that he and his “people” are investigating building a hypercar to rival the Mercedes-AMG Project One and Aston Martin Valkyrie. The former Lamborghini CEO was speaking to TopGear.com at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

When asked if Audi was interested in launching a hypercar, he replied: “In my opinion yes, it’s clear that we have developed the R8 completely – but it’s a very young car with a long life cycle, we will have derivatives. And then we have to enlarge our product portfolio.

“We will go from 11 to 16 cars in the next three years, this is a major effort but the halo car, the repositioning car, is something my people are thinking about. I have my ideas, they have theirs, we have to see when there is enough space to do something like this. But to be sure this brand deserves something like this.”

Early days then, and no concrete details on the tech direction as yet. However, given the VW Group’s punchy Roadmap E strategy announced in Frankfurt – a promise to offer its entire 300 model range with at least one electric or hybrid variant by 2030 – you’d be a fool to bet against it being anything other than a showcase for future electrification possibilities. In fact, Winkelmann recently told TopGear.com that he wasn’t working on a hybrid hypercar, suggesting all-electric is his preferred route, one that could draw a link between road cars and Audi’s participation in Formula E.

“Does it have to be aligned with motorsport? Not necessarily, but if you can find a link it’s perfect. Formula E could be an opportunity for sure, but it doesn’t necessarily have to go in that direction,” said Winkelmann.

It’s not the first time Audi has felt the lure of a multi-million pound halo model. In 2012, during his tenure as Audi’s boss of technical development, Wolfgang Dürheimer (now in charge of Bentley and Bugatti) voiced his desire to leverage the company’s success at Le Mans with a diesel-electric hypercar… a project he couldn’t get past the accountants and just as well – four years later and Audi quit endurance racing to focus on Formula E.

While details surrounding the hypercar are murky, Winkelmann is crystal clear on what form the first electrified RS model will take: “It’s not easy to use electrification in performance cars, but we think there will be a shift and a trend that’s unstoppable. We will start with one and it will be a BEV, not a plug-in hybrid or hybrid.

“It will arrive between 2020 and 2021 and the key is what range can you have, what is the top speed, how long can you hold the top speed, how many times can you accelerate and what is the distance covered in the first 2.5 seconds – this is the new way of looking at things. And I’m definitely not thinking about an R8 as the battery electric vehicle, I see more a sporty limousine or a sporty SUV as a first try.”

Pictured: Audi R8 GT3

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