Audi’s all-electric e-tron gets its first run for Formula E
Audi has announced that it’s all-electric e-tron will be coming to Formula E this year as the race taxi for its opening race in Rome this Saturday 14 April. Interestingly, the e-tron Audi will be taking around the track isn’t the all-electric e-tron Quattro production car they plan to produce by 2022, instead it’s the fully electric concept car first built for PS4 game GT Sport.
For now, the Vision Gran Turismo is simply a signifier that Audi is committed to pushing an all-electric solution, rather than a suggestion it’ll be making turning it into a production car. Last year’s Formula E race taxi was the BMW i8, a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle that, while seriously impressive in the power department, doesn’t quite align with the electric future that Formula E portrays.
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Made into a reality in under 12 months thanks to some smart engineering and clever partnerships, the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo is an absolute beast of an electric car. Using the in-game model from GT Sport as a starting point, Audi’s pre-production centre revisited the early concepts they submitted for Sony’s game to help flesh out how they could turn the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo from a video game concept car into reality.
Comprising of three of Audi’s 268bhp electric motors capable of pushing out a combined 805bhp, a 60kWh lithium-ion battery from the upcoming e-tron and suspension and steering systems from Audi’s DTM race team, it’s clear this is a somewhat piecemeal creation. But that’s almost the point.
Just like its GT Sport counterpart, the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo isn’t a production car, it’s simply a working concept. “Although the design of a virtual vehicle allows much greater freedom and creation of concepts which are only hart to implement in reality, we did not want to put a purely fictitious concept on wheels,” explains Audi’s chief designer Marc Lichte. “Our aim was a fully functional car. The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo shows that electric mobility at Audi is very emotive. This car incorporates numerous elements of our new design language such as the inverted single frame in the vehicle’s colour that will be typical for our new e-tron models.”
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Those lucky enough to be in Rome for the Formula E race could have a chance to actually sit in as a passenger on a loop of Rome’s city circuit. Audi hasn’t given many details, but Audi says that customers and brand guests out in Rome will be able to go for a ride. Everyone else, however, will have to wait until the Audi e-tron SUV rolls around in 2022.
Our sister publication, Auto Express had a chance to ride in the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo ahead of Rome’s opening Formula E race. Aside from the general amazement at how well it holds itself into corners at speed, and just how nippy it is (0-60mph in under 2.5 seconds, in case you’re wondering), reviewer Thomas Geiger believes that “the Audi Vision GT is the kind of car that will convince even the most skeptical petrolheads about electric cars.” Big words indeed.