Audi unveils the R18 e-tron Quattro Le Mans prototype

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 1, 2012

Audi AG will bring a new race car for the Le Mans race that will use its newest technology. Audi’s car is the first LMP1 car in the world to combine a highly efficient TDI with a hybrid system. The quattro drive is returning to the race track with this prototype in a totally new form. On May 5, Audi will debut its new Le Mans prototype – the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro – at the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium).

It will then be brought to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) on June 16-17 to compete for the overall win. Audi uses two technologies in such a way as to create a new type of drive, which is undergoing testing for future use in production cars – the e-tron quattro.

This is the next generation four-wheel drive that will get the benefits of the accomplished quattro drive with the likelihood of electromobility. This is why one vehicle axle is traditionally powered while electric motors power the second one.

The recovery of kinetic energy on the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is from the front axle during the braking phase. Electricity is fed to it as it enters into a flywheel accumulator before it’s later retrieved under acceleration higher than a speed of 120 km/h. For this procedure, just the front axle is integrated.

The V6 TDI power plant that delivers 375 kW (510 hp) continues to distribute its power to the rear wheels. These two systems complement each other to make the new drive principle e-tron quattro. The Audi R18 ultra was developed by Audi Sport alongside the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro.

This is because Audi uses a two-pronged approach this year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the recently made FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) – the 2012 model year Audi R18 can be produced with or without hybrid drive. Since the base of both cars is completely identical, the additional logistical effort would have to stay limited for Audi Sport and the race team.

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