Ok­to­ber­fest fu­tu­rama

New tech­nolo­gies to take us for a test drive

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

OK­TO­BER­FEST is in full swing this week but I’m in Mu­nich for some­thing that will last a bit longer than a han­gover — sam­pling three break­through tech­nolo­gies that are likely to be on tap soon.

Audi is go­ing all-out in Mu­nich to show­case its best bets on CO and fuel econ­omy re­duc­tions: an elec­tric tur­bocharger, an in­tel­li­gent hy­brid sys­tem that pre­dicts road con­di­tions to cut en­ergy use, and a dualmode hy­brid car that moves the range-ex­ten­der goal posts be­yond the Holden Volt, the bench­mark.

Each is a sig­nif­i­cant ad­vance. And the at-the­wheel im­pres­sion in the test cars is that all three are as good as done for pro­duc­tion.

The ad­van­tage of an elec­tric tur­bocharger be­comes ob­vi­ous within 100 me­tres of start­ing the engine. It is fit­ted to a V6 that nor­mally runs a pair of ex­haust-driven turbo- charg­ers, but they need heat and ex­haust gases.

The elec­tric turbo elim­i­nates lag from a stand­ing start and is claimed to im­prove cold start-up and re­duce ef­fi­ciency losses.

It will come on a range of en­gines, from the tini­est fuel mis­ers to more-ef­fi­cient per­for­mance power plants.

Audi’s GPS-linked In­tel­li­gent Driver As­sist knows the road be­fore the driver sees it, al­low­ing for smoother driv­ing, a lot of low-drag coast­ing, and prompts for the right gear and use of the ac­cel­er­a­tor. It’s harder to feel a ben­e­fit on flat, smooth roads but the A6 test car coasts a long way when it is set to free-wheel.

Then it’s time for my favourite — I’m a big fan of elec­tric cars — an A1 e-tron dual-mode hy­brid.

This is a bat­tery elec­tric car with a three-cylin­der com­bus­tion engine that can ei­ther boost ac­cel­er­a­tion or charge the bat­tery, ex­tend­ing the elec­tri­crun­ning range from 80km to more than 600km.

It re­minds me in­stantly of the Holden Volt, ex­cept the Audi is qui­eter and more re­fined, its petrol engine is smaller and de­signed specif­i­cally for the job. As I com­plete my three runs, all short but en­light­en­ing and mak­ing for an in­ten­sive day of tech­nol­ogy over­load, it’s ob­vi­ous that Audi is try­ing to cover all the bases.

As I look at the cars and con­sider re­search on al­ter­na­tive fu­els and the re­new­able en­ergy needed to process them, one thing is very clear.

The best bet for a green mo­tor­ing fu­ture is in Ger­many, as Audi and the other pres­tige brands — BMW and Benz — have the cash and com­mit­ment to make the big gains. They are also backed by gov­ern­ments at all lev­els which are spend­ing on the fu­ture and not, like Aus­tralia, re­fus­ing to even con­sider sub­si­dies to get peo­ple into cars that will spear­head the seachange in 21st cen­tury mo­tor­ing.

Paul Gover, Chief re­porter

Green and lean: The green rev­o­lu­tion in mo­tor­ing will most likely come out of

Ger­many

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