For a company associated heavily with aluminum construction, why does Audi involve themselves with iron? Part of the first two Iron Man films adapted from the Marvel comic book franchise, the premium car company happily lent its trendy products. Making several cameo appearances, Audi vehicles contributed to the style of the movies (note Iron Man’s eyes when looking at the headlamps of an Audi car). Robert Downey Jr’s character Tony Stark drove a coupe as well as the Spyder variant of the Audi R8 in Iron Man and Iron Man 2. The Audi A8 sedan and Q7 crossover also received screen time during the action-adventure series. The third movie in the current blockbuster Iron Man series will again have Audi products on display.
Serving as the all-wheel drive chariot for high-energy, fictional billionaire Tony Stark will be a white Audi R8 e-tron supercar. In addition, Stark‘s girlfriend Virginia “Pepper” Potts (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is receiving her own set of Audi quattro wheels. Potts will be seen driving an Audi S7 Sportback in the 2013 film.
First applied to the Audi R8 in 2010, the e-tron powerplant layout pitched the company’s first experiment in production-oriented electric car. Premiering in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the R8 e-tron was a 313-horsepower concept was heavily Audi. Even Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive in a zero-emissions car was present in an all-electric setup. While the electric powerplant is now as powerful as a conventional 4.2 liter V8-powered R8, the Audi R8 e-tron’s roughly 1,000-pound weight reduction provided compensation. Acceleration of the R8 e-tron from 0 to 62 miles per hour was estimated at 4.8 seconds.
Since introduction, the Audi R8 e-tron supercar could be seen under evaluation at places including the Nurburgring. Despite optimism and excitement to compare an all-electric Audi supercar, limited production originally planned for the R8 e-tron for late 2012 is now indefinitely delayed. An appearance in Iron Man 3 at least preserves some hope that the e-tron philosophy hasn’t been abandoned by Audi. Perhaps, if Tony Stark lent Audi the power capacity of an arc reactor, the future of an R8 e-tron sports car would reach fruition.
In addition to the Audi R8 e-tron, the Marvel universe revolving around Iron Man already brought a concept car to fictional streets. In the 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers”, a yet-to-be publicly released Acura NSX convertible appeared. Decked out in a red resembling part of Iron Man’s colour scheme, Tony Stark was seen giving Dr. Banner (A.K.A. The Hulk) a ride following their battle to save the world.
The return of Audi’s Marvel universe appearance in Iron Man 3 is quickly approaching. United States release of the highly-anticipated film is May 3rd.
Spoiler Alert: One excerpt of the recent Iron Man 3 trailer shows the untimely demise of an Audi R8 when Stark’s mansion is under attack. At the 1-minute, 31-second mark of the trailer, the white Audi R8 e-tron is seen falling with other debris. If harm simply comes to that car as result of an evil force, that is reason enough for Iron Man to send some repulsor blasts flying.
Information, photo and video source: Audi AG, Marvel
Regardless though, Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and requirements in states like California have mandated some zero emissions vehicles. Also, Audi has a reputation for investments in technology. Thus, Audi instituted the e-tron program. Various concepts in this program have been introduced, such as the R8 e-Tron. Many industry insiders expected the program to be approved for a limited production, with an arrival date of early next year. Car and Driver now reports that Audi’s research and development boss Wolfgang Durheimer has put the program under a “review.” The VW Group is in a cash savings mode due to problems in the European market. That is causing non-essential programs (such as the Bentley EXP 9F and Lamborghini Urus SUVs) to be curtailed.
The R8 e-tron is one of them getting the axe. Durheimer’s concerns include a lack of batteries to power the car at a reasonable price, as well as a lack of sales. The R8 e-tron would be very expensive, and have a limited range to boot. Both factors limit sales significantly. Given this, Car & Driver expects the program to be cancelled for production. The mules we’ve seen so far ar for evaluation purposes as the company learns about electrics. This news comes as the R8 e-tron’s expected launch date is nearing. Audi’s move follows a similar reduction in scope of electric vehicle efforts at Toyota. The dreadful (in range anyway) Scion iQ has now been limited to 50 vehicles in the United States, all destined for car sharing services. Only Tesla, which has taken great pains to produce a truly top-notch pure electric vehicle, has experienced heavy demand. For those looking forward to an electric Audi though, the latest word on the street is that the A3 e-tron is headed for series production – for now anyway.