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Audi Unplugs R8 e-tron, Electric Car Program Left In Limbo

In September of 2009, Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen loudly and proudly called the Chevrolet Volt “a car for idiots”. He spent the next several months back-tracking.

Like certain politicians who suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, de Nysschen was clumsily trying to make a couple of interesting points: (a) even though the Volt is fuel-efficient, savings at the pump will never justify the car’s high price tag, and (b) because America derives so much of its electricity from coal, even the most severely gas-averse Volt drivers won’t be doing much to improve the environment.*

But underneath those arguably compelling arguments, it was impossible to ignore a certain contempt that de Nysschen was expressing for electric and advanced hybrid cars.

De Nysschen’s boss, Rupert Stadler, hasn’t been much more enthusiastic on those fronts, though both men have often pointed to Audi’s high-end e-tron concept car — revealed around the same time as the “idiots” incident — as proof that Audi was making room for electrics in its lineup. In fact, just last month, we were promised e-tron versions of every Audi model by the year 2020.

But maybe not.
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