Le Mans plugs in

Audi per­for­mance power takes 24-Hour race hon­ours in diesel-hy­brid hero cars

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

R8 e-Tron su­per­car and per­haps even com­bus­tion en­gines run­ning on com­pressed nat­u­ral gas.

The new gen­er­a­tion of e-qu­at­tro cars will com­bine elec­tric drive at one end with petrol or diesel at the other, just like the diesel-elec­tric Audi R18 e-tron rac­ers that fin­ished 1-2 in this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race in a land­mark re­sult for hy­brid power.

‘‘ Our idea is to be ef­fi­cient and sporty. You can drive a hy­brid and have fun,’’ says Christian Bange­mann of Audi’s prod­uct and tech­nol­ogy di­vi­sion in Ger­many.

‘‘ The hy­brid can be the next step of the qu­at­tro theme. We are think­ing of the hy­brid qu­at­tro theme, hav­ing one axle with elec­tric power and the other with the com­bus­tion en­gine. This might be our first mile­stone with a very sporty theme, the e-qu­at­tro.’’

Bange­mann says Audi is com­mit­ted to hy­brids and is well ad­vanced with a full-scale roll­out in a lit­tle over five years.

‘‘ We will bring, in ev­ery model, a hy­brid on the road in the next years,’’ he says.

The e-qu­at­tro cars will fol­low, although he is re­luc­tant to give any tim­ing. ‘‘ It’s a plan. Our engi­neers are work­ing on that. But this is a lit­tle bit more in the fu­ture,’’ he says.

‘‘ They will be ver­sions of our ex­ist­ing cars. They give you some fun on the road, but not the per­for­mance you see with the RS mod­els.’’

Bange­mann says rac­ing at Le Mans is ac­cel­er­at­ing Audi’s knowl­edge of sev­eral sys­tems, par­tic­u­larly soft­ware in­te­gra­tion, although he rules out a trans­fer of the com­pany’s high-speed fly­wheel stor­age sys­tem from rac­ing to the road. ‘‘ The fly­wheel is right for the race­track but for the street we don’t think it’s the right idea.’’

He says Audi is work­ing on how to spread the e-qu­at­tro load to all four cor­ners of the car.

‘‘ Maybe it will be a com­bi­na­tion of three en­gines, two elec­tri­cal and one com­bus­tion. We might drive elec­tric with one axle,or drive elec­tric with boost by the com­bus­tion en­gine.

‘‘ There are still some years that we will see be­fore they are ready for the cus­tomers.’’

Bange­mann says Audi is less fo­cused on elec­tric cars but is nearly set with the R8 e-Tron.

‘‘ At the mo­ment we’re not work­ing on pure elec­tric cars. Our first steps will be plug-in hy­brids. The first e-Trons on the road will be plug-in hy­brids — ex­cept the R8 e-Tron, which is pure elec­tric . . . and you can buy in 2013.’’

Around the clock: The No.1 Audi R18 e-Tron was first across the line

at Le Mans last week­end

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