The truth is in the last place you look.
The supercar segment is currently undergoing major changes. Gone is the concept of a hybrid supercar viewed as something radical. It's quickly becoming mainstream, evidenced in part by the all-new Ferrari SF90. As Ferrari continues to take baby steps towards all-out electrification, its competitors are also determining their next steps. One of those competitors is the Audi R8, a distant corporate cousin to the Lamborghini Huracan Evo. Right now, the R8 comes powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10, an engine that has become one of the supercar's trademarks.
Question is, will the V10 remain for the eventual third-generation R8? Or, will the next R8 go all-electric? Autocar recently spoke with Audi Sport boss Oliver Hoffmann about this subject and it turns out the folks at Audi Sport are fighting hard to keep the V10, but it sounds like it's an uphill battle.
"The V10 is an icon, and a USP within the segment," he said. "With the current R8, our customers love this car. We are fighting for the V10, but (for the next-generation) it's more or less a question of ICE or electrification, and which kind of engine is useful for it." In other words, the Volkswagen Group isn't interested in a hybrid R8. Audi Sport, the brand's high-performance division, understandably wants to keep that V10 but the suits at the higher level may not feel the same. It's about a business case and the future of high-revving engines such as this V10 could be in doubt unless they're connected to an electrical boost source. But since Audi doesn't appear to be interested in doing hybrid or plug-in hybrid, there'll be just two choices.
And remember, Audi already begun testing the all-electric waters with last year's PB18 e-tron concept. Could that serve as an R8 successor, design and attitude wise? Certainly. Question is whether or not Audi will give it the green light. We doubt Audi will build both the R8 and an all-electric supercar at the same time. There's room for only one halo car.
But hang on, what about the Lamborghini Huracan? Its successor won't be all-electric. "Lamborghini has to have a naturally-aspirated engine, no other brand stands for NA like Lamborghini," Hoffmann said. Audi has room to negotiate. However, Hoffmann also pointed out that "We are working very close with the guys from Sant'Agata. The only way to develop such kinds of cars is to share the cost for development work and to have a very, very tough platform strategy."
This coming weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Audi is expected to reveal the R8 GT2 spec customer race car, which could morph into a new street legal hardcore R8, as we previously reported about. That's the near-term. The long-term has still to be decided.