Some of Audi's future technology plans have been revealed in new technical patents.
Not all patents make it into series-production cars, but two engineering ideas — one very simple and one very complex — look set to enter production within the next few years.
The simple idea suggests using hinged flaps between the spokes of an alloy wheel. The flaps move radially over the spokes as the wheel speeds up, creating a completely flat wheel cover.
According to Audi’s application, fully enclosed wheels not only smooth airflow at speed but also help to improve the car’s overall aerodynamic performance, thanks to changes in air pressure under the car. As the car slows, the wheel flaps open again, but the flaps are also temperature sensitive, so they can open up if the braking surfaces become too hot.
The second patent appears to show a new-generation Audi all-wheel drive system which uses an electrically driven rear axle. This is a logical progression for the traditional quattro system, combining rapid-reacting all-wheel drive and electric drive.