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Production of the electric Audi R8 will be strictly tailored to demand. But the firm has also drawn up blueprints for several high-performance vehicles. Photograph: Martyn Goddard/Corbis
Audi has drawn up blueprints for a range of high-performance electric cars to take on US firm Tesla Motors, according to sources at the German carmaker.
Consumers have largely shunned battery-powered vehicles because of their high price tags and limited driving range as well as the scarcity of charging stations. But many analysts predict sales will rise sharply by the end of the decade.
Tesla has managed to stay ahead of the pack with new technology that has extended driving range and reduced costs. Its success and the excitement about BMW's new "i" electric series have caught the attention of Audi, which some analysts have said risks looking like a laggard in an industry where innovation is a big draw for customers.
Audi, a unit of Volkswagen, is about to launch its first purely electric car, a battery-powered version of its R8 supercar, which is due to hit European dealerships in 2015 and will offer a range of 280 miles. This is close to the 312-mile range of Tesla's top-selling Model S luxury saloon.
Production of the electric R8 will be strictly tailored to demand. However, Audi has also drawn up blueprints for several high-performance electric saloons and sport-utility vehicles, two company sources told Reuters, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.