Audi Implements Hybrid All-Wheel-Drive System Into Racing With R18 e-Tron Quattro

When we hear Quattro, we automatically think of Audi. But while this all-wheel-drive system has proliferated across the company’s production model range and excelled on the road, they weren’t initially developed for the road – it was developed for racing. And Audi has done fantastic in Le Mans racing. Year in and year out, the team is constantly pushing the limits of racing technology, and this year the team has announced the implementation a unique diesel-hybrid system for a pair of LMP1-class race cars.

Named the R18 e-tron Quattro, the pair of Le Mans race cars not only continue Audi’s tradition of utilizing turbo-diesel engines in the series, but they go on to supplement the powertrain with a hybrid propulsion system and all-wheel-drive. The features have never before been implemented into Audi’s Le Mans program.

Specifically, the TDI engine, AWD and hybrid system work together, recovering lost energy from braking and feeding the power back to the front wheels when accelerating. The 510 horsepower V6 TDI on the other hand sends its might to the rear wheels. The added weight of the hybrid powertrain is offset by a carbon-fiber gearbox housing, used for the first time in endurance racing.

Audi will be campaigning two examples of the R18 e-tron Quattro at Le Mans in June and before that at Spa in May, alongside two of the R18 Ultras with conventional diesel power. Since both cars were developed together, they use mostly the same components, enabling more efficient race logistics for the team.

Thankfully, one does not have to be an Audi race car driver to experience technology derived from racing. From the small A3 to the mighty Q7, owners can possess the power and efficiency found in Audi’s TDI turbodiesel engines. If Quattro all-wheel-drive is desired, one only needs to look towards the acclaimed A4, or even the awe-inspiring R8 supercar. And with this new technology Audi has ventured into with its racing program, we can only imagine what the technology of a TDI AWD Quattro system will transfer like from track to street.

Mar 5th, 2012