UPDATE 1-German automakers shift focus to high-end electric cars

miércoles 4 de marzo de 2015 07:34 GYT

* Audi launches revamped R8 e-tron at Geneva show

* Daimler CEO says investigating high-end electric cars

* Audi still treading carefully in electric cars - analysts (Recasts with Daimler, analyst comments)

By Andreas Cremer and Edward Taylor

BERLIN/GENEVA, March 4 (Reuters) - German carmakers are shifting their focus towards high-end electric vehicles such as the Audi R8 e-tron and away from cheap city cars, in the latest effort to revive environmentally-friendly but unpopular zero-emission vehicles.

At the Geneva auto show, Audi unveiled an emission-free version of its 165,000-euro ($184,619) R8 that can drive 450 kilometres (280 miles) before needing to recharge, which takes less than two hours.

It marks a new departure for Audi, which has agonized over whether to launch a range of electric vehicles.

Battery-powered cars have failed to live up to their initial hype, with drivers put off by the slow rollout of recharging stations, and limited range -- despite generous sales incentives in some markets.

Because the batteries, cabling and cooling systems for electric cars cost more than a conventional combustion engine, electric vehicles have struggled to gain widespread acceptance among price-sensitive customers, particularly if the same model is available cheaper with a more conventional powertrain.   Continuación...