All-wheel drive Audi R18 e-tron Quattro heads for Le Mans 24 Hours in June

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 21, 2012

On June 16 and 17, Audi would be celebrating a prestigious success with a hybrid vehicle, the R18 e-tron Quattro, that could be winning the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time. The vehicle combines quattro all-wheel drive and electrified drive to create a technological synthesis made by Audi. 

Within 1981 and 1997, the automaker won four titles in the World Rally Championship with quattro models. It also had a championship win in the TRANS-AM and clinched three victories at Pikes Peak, two DTM titles and eleven national Super Touring Car Championships and a Touring Car World Cup. Now, an all-wheel drive model can compete in the FIA's circuit racing program for the first time since the ban in 1998.

However, what sounds like a simple comeback has been one of the largest endeavors ever made by Audi Sport so far. Due to space conditions, having a hybrid system and an additional front-wheel drive into a sports vehicle can be particularly difficult. With a length of 4.65 meters and a width of two meters, the vehicle has huge outer dimensions. With system partners' support, the automaker has produced a particularly compact motor generator unit (MGU) on the front axle. 

During energy recovery, which is fully electronically controlled, drive shafts send out energy to the MGU where it is converted into electric power during braking periods. The principle is similar to the common dyno without the extremely high energy flows.

Converters merged into the housing change this energy from changing into direct current which in turn drives a rotating mass storage device. The energy is stocked up by the current accelerating this carbon fiber flywheel, which runs in a high-vacuum to as much as 45,000 revolutions per minute. After cornering, the energy is available again to run the electric motors of the MGU unit, which in turn, run the front wheels. Up to 150 kW of short-term power or 204 HP is available to be supplied for the front axle.

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