2015 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro received a new design, becomes more fuel-efficient

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 24, 2015

Audi has just introduced the new R18 e-tron Quattro, an updated version of last year’s vehicle which will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The R18 e-tron Quattro will compete in the 4-megajoule class and features a twofold quantity of hybrid energy, revised aerodynamics as well as a lot of detailed work.

If you take a closer look to the previous model, you will see that the new R18 e-tron Quattro features an updated design, although its basic structure is closely akin to its predecessor. The new look includes a new way of conducting airflow around and through the front end, larger air inlets in the front wheel arches as well as redesigned headlights which feature Matrix LED technology combined with Audi Laserlight.

Audi says that it adopted the monocoque from the previous model, while the hood with the front wing and wheel arches feature a new design. The German carmaker doubled the amount of energy from 2 to 4 megajoule per race lap at Le Mans.

For those who don’t know, the vehicle recovers energy during braking and the system uses it to power the front axle on acceleration. The electrical machine used to perform this task delivers more than 272 hp (200 kW), a significant increase compared to last year.

Moreover, the capacity of the energy storage system was also increased as the encapsulated flywheel energy storage system that sits in the cockpit alongside the driver can store up to 700 kilojoule of energy (17 percent more than in 2014).

The upgrades didn’t add to much weight to the vehicle, as the new R18 e-tron Quattro weighs just 870 kg. Due to the sporting regulations, the fuel-energy amount needs to be reduced if the engineers opt for higher hybrid output.

This means that the R18 e-tron Quattro needs to use 2.5 percent less diesel fuel per lap than in 2014. And speaking of diesel fuel, the 4.0-liter V6 TDI engine was also updated and now delivers 558 hp (410 kW).

Still, the power delivered by the hybrid engine was restricted due to the improved hybrid output. The new regulations also say that only five engines per race car may be used during the entire season. [source: Audi]

Press Release

2015 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro

Audi is starting the 2015 season with a thoroughly revised R18 e-tron quattro. In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and in the Le Mans 24 Hours as the season's pinnacle event, Audi is going to compete with a hybrid sports car in the 4-megajoule class.

A twofold quantity of hybrid energy, fundamentally revised aerodynamics, the next step in lightweight design and a lot of detailed work characterize the fifth generation of the Audi R18. "The possibilities of the revolutionary regulations that have been in effect for LMP sports cars since 2014 are far from having been fully used. The rules harbor so much potential that there is room for future developments," says Jörg Zander, Audi Sport's new Head of Engineering. "We expect that the technological progress resulting from the fierce competitive pressure exerted by four automobile manufacturers that are now involved will significantly improve lap times this season - while concurrently reducing fuel consumption."

The new R18 e-tron quattro visually differs clearly from its predecessor even though its basic structure is closely akin to the previous model. The fresh look results from a new way of conducting airflow around and through the front end, in the area of the sidepods and at the rear of the LMP1 prototype. Large air inlets in the front wheel arches reduce aerodynamic drag of the body and have led to an all-new design of the headlights. The lighting units feature Matrix LED technology combined with Audi Laserlight - two innovations that improve active safety in road traffic and that Audi customers can now order for their production models as well.

While Audi has adopted the monocoque - the central safety cell of the race car - from the previous model, the hood with the front wing and wheel arches features a new design. As this body element incorporates the crash structure, Audi performed a new crash test for the 2015 season. Modified airflow through the sidepods with new radiator configurations for cooling the engine and the hybrid system further optimizes aerodynamic drag. The engine cover, which encloses the unit even more tightly and notably tapers off behind the cockpit, contributes to this as well.

In 2015, Audi is again preparing two body versions for the various tracks on the FIA WEC calendar. In combination with an optimized chassis and in close cooperation with tire partner Michelin, Audi has further improved the performance potential of its sports prototype this way.

Hybrid pioneer Audi is taking the next step in the area of energy recovery as well. The company is the only manufacturer to date to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours with hybrid sports cars. Since 2012, the R18 e-tron quattro has been unbeaten in the French endurance classic. For 2015, the engineers have doubled the amount of energy from 2 to 4 megajoules per race lap at Le Mans. During braking, energy is recovered which the system subsequently feeds back to the front axle on acceleration. The electrical machine that performs this task now delivers an output of more than 200 kW (272 hp), which is a significant increase compared to 2014. Therefore, Audi has increased the capacity of the energy storage system as well. The encapsulated flywheel energy storage system that sits in the cockpit alongside the driver can store up to 700 kilojoules of energy that it subsequently returns to the electrical machine - which is about 17 percent more than in 2014.

Despite these performance increases Audi has achieved the minimum weight of only 870 kilograms - notably in what is currently the world's most complex racing category. The improved hybrid output, however, results in a restriction for the internal combustion engine. According to the sporting regulations the fuel-energy amount has to be further reduced if the engineers opt for higher hybrid output. As a result, the R18 e-tron quattro has to make do with 2.5 percent less diesel fuel per lap than in 2014.

Not least for this reason, Audi has further developed the four-liter V6 TDI engine by performing a lot of detailed work to achieve the optimized consumption levels. The most efficient power-plant in the field now delivers 410 kW (558 hp). Due to its optimized consumption the developers have managed to more than compensate for the loss in output resulting from the reduced amount of fuel. As another new rule for 2015, only five engines per race car may be used during the entire season. The power-plant now delivering even greater fuel efficiency continues a major trend. In 2006, Audi's TDI engine debuted at Le Mans, followed by eight victories until 2014. While lap times continually improved, fuel consumption decreased by 38 percent during this period.

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