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Audi unveils its e-tron quattro,
plans big showroom in Kuwait
By Chidi Emmanuel
INGOLSTADT, Germany: Audi has set the bar high for motorsports as it unveiled its latest prototype e-tron Quattro in Ingolstadt, Germany. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the first Audi race car which no longer accelerated exclusively by a combustion engine. With its partially electrified hybrid drive e-tron quattro, the prototype hails a new era in LMP1 sports cars. “The project e-tron quattro for motor sport started in February 2010. Only 18 months passed from the initial conceptual ideas to the first test. This is a relatively short cycle for a technology that has never been tested in motor sport and which still doesn’t even exist in production,” Dr Martin Muhlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport said.
“The first big hurdle on the threshold of a new era was defining the concepts. As so often the case in the past, Audi also aims to play a pioneering role in this technology. For the R18 e-tron quattro ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ (Advancement through technology) means the development of an independent hybrid system including complete networking, control, software, algorithms and interfaces,” he added.
In the latest technology, Audi adopted a flywheel accumulator system since the requirements at Le Mans differ slightly to those in everyday life. “A high power density is crucial during energy recuperation,” Christopher Reinke, Technical Project Leader LMP stated. He explained that “the system integrated into the front axle is comprised of two drive shafts, the Motor Generator Unit including planetary gears, an electronic flywheel accumulator alongside the driver, an insulation monitoring unit for high voltage safety and the control system. The regulations allow 500 kJ of energy to be transferred to the front wheels between two braking phases. The planetary gears adapt the transmission ratio during acceleration and braking. The two independently powered axles on the e-tron quattro are synchronized exclusively via electronic control strategies”.
“The subject of lightweight design and construction was the focus throughout the entire car,” Christopher Reinke, Technical Project Leader LMP at Audi Sport said. “We have systematically and logically pursued ultra lightweight design and construction without compromising the aspects of safety and reliability. The same applies to the monocoque just as it does for the engine, gearbox and other components,” he added.
Audi – which, was the first to win Le Mans with a TFSI engine and TDI engine has also sets the bar extremely high for the DTM competition in Germany. The auto giant had a perfect year in 2011 with Audi’s Martin Tomczyk as the champion; Mattias Ekstrom- the runner-up; Edoardo Mortara – rookie of the year and the Audi Sport team ABT Sportline – winner in team scoring. “To develop the hybrid technology for Le Mans is at least as ambitious as and challenging as our diesel project was in its early stages. We are intrigued to see how this technology performs in combination with our ultra lightweight technology on the race track at Le Mans,” the Head of Audi Motosport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich said.
The racing car has a developed a highly efficient system incorporating many technical innovations. “The hybrid quattro is just the foretaste of an innovative hybrid fleet. Our objective is very clear- not only to defend our title in Le Mans but also to become the first carmaker ever to win the most famous long-distance race in the world with a hybrid prototype sports car. This is only in keeping the Audi tradition,” Rupert Stadler, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG said. With regards to the Middle East, Stadler said the auto giant is planning to build a huge showroom in Kuwait, not a plant as previously reported. The Chairman sees a great growth potential in the Middle East, especially in the GCC region where a tremendous growth has already been recorded.