Audi has revealed its latest Le Mans car, a diesel-electric hybrid called the R18 E-tron quattro

The four-wheel-drive technology fitted to the new Audi R18 E-tron quattro hybrid Le Mans racer will filter down to the Ingolstadt firm’s road car line-up in the future.

Yesterday Audi revealed the R18 E-tron quattro, a hybrid sportscar that has twin electric motors driving the front wheels in addition to the 3.7-litre V6 diesel engine powering the rear axle. Audi will enter two R18 E-tron quattros in the Le Mans 24 Hours in the summer, as well as a brace of conventionally powered R18 prototypes.

See pictures of the new Audi R18 E-tron quattro

E-tron quattro will be offered as option on next-generation B9-series Audi A4, although unlike the racing car the system is likely to be on the rear axle due to the standard front-wheel drive layout of Audi’s road cars.

The E-tron system’s motors collect braking energy and send it to the rear of the car, where it powers another motor that spins up a flywheel, where the energy is ‘saved’.

The flywheel is then used to spin up the motor at the rear and send charge to front axle motors to assist the car’s acceleration out of corners for a limited period. The bursts of hybrid power are regulated and only kick in at speeds above 74mph. This cycle works around ten times per lap, and the R18 E-tron has a diesel fuel tank that is about two litres smaller than non-hybrid vehicles.

The flywheel system – sourced from Williams Hybrid Power, part of the same group of companies as the Williams F1 team – used to store the energy because it is lighter than a battery pack and able to cope with 3600 energy 'cycles' (charge/de-charge) per 24-hour race.

Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, together with the FIA, is encouraging hybrid technology at the famous endurance race. Audi will face stiff opposition from Toyota, which is returning to sportscar racing with a petrol-electric hybrid challenger. To be classed as a hybrid under Le Mans rules, a car must be able to exit the French circuit’s 400-metre, slightly uphill pitlane on electric power alone.

Audi’s R18 E-tron quattro racers will prepare for Le Mans by competing in a round of the new World Endurance Championship at Spa-Francorchamps in May.

Hilton Holloway and Matt Burt

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16

1 March 2012

It's good to see high end motor sport being encouraged to use tech that can filter down to road vehicles again - something F1 hasn't done for many years.

Now all they need to do is get some of that competition specification magic worked on their chassis and everyone will be a winner!

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

1 March 2012

I have always been a massive fan of Audi's Le Mans commitment, and as much as I don't like one manufacturer winning all the time, I am looking forward to being there in June when they will presumably win again. Although hopefully Toyota will give them a tougher time than Peugeot usually managed to do...

Audi deserve credit for their 13-year commitment to Le Mans, unlike most manufacturers who have tended to use it as a stepping stone to F1 (BMW, Toyota, Peugeot, TWR, Mercedes, Sauber, etc.). Attending the race in 2009 and 2010 (couldn't go last year, but have my campsite booked again for this year), I was amazed how it was very much an "Audi Town" as they had so much track signage, multiple corporate boxes, VIP shuttles, promotional displays, safety cars, medical cars, marshalling vehicles and so on. They were putting as much back into Le Mans as they were taking out of it, and use it as a major part of their marketing. Audi UK used to run customer events (don't know if they still do) where customers could be part of an official Audi trip to the race, and even rented cars from their demo/press fleet to customers if they wanted to drive an R8 Spyder down to the race and back.

Peugeot's presence was far smaller, and far more self-promoting. As were Aston Martin and BMW, although BMW did have an old Art Car on display in a sealed bubble outside their corporate box in 2010.

Mind you, it looks like the liveries for this year's Audis were designed by Stevie Wonder...

1 March 2012

A good move by Audi.Their are plenty of others who should take this lead to give us more 'inspiring' drives.

1 March 2012

Teg, you are normally a bit more on the ball mate! This tech came out of F1. And a couple of companies were looking at bringing Flybrid (?) technology to road cars.

2 March 2012

[quote MartyB59]Teg, you are normally a bit more on the ball mate! This tech came out of F1. And a couple of companies were looking at bringing Flybrid (?) technology to road cars.[/quote]

No, he's right. F1 doesn't allow 4wd. The "KERS" system in F1 is not 4wd, it is effectively (for the majority of cars) a battery-based "overboost" function that is regenerated through braking torque.

So this is Audi system unique in motorsports. Peugeot were rumored to have a similar system in their new car before the board pulled the pin in their involvement in sportscar racing last month.

2 March 2012

Agree with Teg it is good to see a major manufacturer use competition to improve its production technology.

2 March 2012

[quote skiwi]

[quote MartyB59]Teg, you are normally a bit more on the ball mate! This tech came out of F1. And a couple of companies were looking at bringing Flybrid (?) technology to road cars.[/quote]

No, he's right. F1 doesn't allow 4wd. The "KERS" system in F1 is not 4wd, it is effectively (for the majority of cars) a battery-based "overboost" function that is regenerated through braking torque.

So this is Audi system unique in motorsports. Peugeot were rumored to have a similar system in their new car before the board pulled the pin in their involvement in sportscar racing last month.

[/quote] Sorry guys. The fly wheel tech was developed for F1. Sure it's a different application but it's based on the same unit to harness the energy and the application would be different in a road car anyway. And as I said, the unit has been looked at for road use from the earliest announcement that it would be used in F1, so it wasn't true to say that nothing had come out of F1 for many years. http://www.flybridsystems.com/F1System.html

2 March 2012

[quote MartyB59]Sorry guys. The fly wheel tech was developed for F1. Sure it's a different application but it's based on the same unit to harness the energy and the application would be different in a road car anyway. And as I said, the unit has been looked at for road use from the earliest announcement that it would be used in F1, so it wasn't true to say that nothing had come out of F1 for many years. http://www.flybridsystems.com/F1System.html[/quote] F1 have never used a kinetic energy recovery system to power the front wheels via electric motors. Audi is (probably using the Porsche system). F1 have used a kinetic (flywheel) to provide direct (non electric) assistance to the rear wheels, although no longer do.

Quite different technology and uses to my mind.

2 March 2012

Skiwi, you are splitting hairs 1, a flywheel kinetic recovery system was developed in F1 first 2, it has been developed for road cars from the F1 unit They are my points, and they are correct. Now you can use the effin drive out of the unit to power whatever you want, direct drive, charge batteries to drive motors on front or rear wheels but it doesn't change the energy recovery method or where it was first developed.

3 March 2012

Although KERS was first used in F1 back in 2009, wasn't Peugeot the first to introduce a kinetic recovery system in the 908 HY sports-prototype in 2008, even though the car didn't race competively during that year or 2009 as intended?

Either way, it's good to see such technology being developed and introduced in sportscar racing and this example will hopefully win over those hardened F1 supporters who claim that sports protoypes have always been second rate technological machines which have pioneered nothing compared to F1 cars.

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