Concept for Audi’s stillborn diesel-electric supercar surfaces

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It was in 2012 that Audi’s R&D chief at the time, Wolfgang Dürheimer, made it public knowledge that the company was considering launching a hybrid supercar equipped with a diesel engine to slot in above the R8, whose second-generation was in development at the time.

It turns out Audi was serious about the project as a concept was built. Known as the Skorpion, the concept was never publicly announced, though it’s now in public view, with its current location being the August Horch Museum in Zwickau, Germany.

According to the museum, the concept was developed to explore the exterior design and aerodynamic properties for the vehicle. The design is clearly inspired by early versions of Audi’s hugely successful R18 Le Mans sports prototypes, though the chassis is based on the chassis used for Audi’s DTM entry at the time.

Were the project to be given the green light, the car was to borrow technology from the R18 race cars as well, particularly the R18 E-Tron Quattro which combined a diesel engine with a pair of electric motors and was unstoppable at Le Mans from 2012-2014.

2012 Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car

Some performance figures mentioned in 2012 included a combined output of 700 hp, 0-60 mph times of less than three seconds, and a top speed of more than 200 mph.

A year after Dürheimer first mentioned the project, he was reassigned to the CEO role of fellow Volkswagen Group brands Bentley and Bugatti. It appears with him went any chance of a hybrid supercar from Audi. The company is now completely without a supercar as production of the R8 ended in March. A successor is planned, though timing is uncertain and an internal-combustion engine, gas or diesel, is a non-starter as Audi plans to exclusively launch electric vehicles beyond 2026.

Interestingly, Porsche last decade also explored the idea of launching a supercar inspired by its own 919 Hybrid Le Mans sports prototype. Porsche got around to building a concept in 2017, but the automaker, just like its VW Group sibling a few years early, ultimately pulled the plug on the project.

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