Tag Archive | "e-tron"

Audi’s New Plug-in Hybrid


The world of hybrid technology goes from strength to strength as manufacturers get to grips with economy and emissions and a host of new regulations. They are all working hard but one of the highlights of next month’s Geneva show will almost certainly be the Audi A3 e-tron.

The A3 is already a success story in its various guises, including the stunning new S3 Sportback. Now, the new e-tron offers a new glimpse into the future of the German car maker’s intentions with a car that has the potential to achieve 188mpg and exhaust emissions as low as 35g/km.

The hybrid integrates a conventional petrol engine and an electric motor as you‘d expect. The battery can be charged at the wall socket or rejuvenated on the road via the petrol engine. The combination of the two will offer impressive performance, exceptional efficiency and most crucially of all as far as buyers are concerned, freedom from the perils of range anxiety.

A modified 1.4L TFSI engine delivering 150PS will provide the usual power and is linked to the 75kw electric motor by a clutch built into a newly designed six-speed ‘e-S tronic’ auto gearbox; all of which drives the front wheels. The combined motors generate 204PS of power and an impressive 350PS of torque.

The Audi A3 e-tron will travel up to 31 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to eighty miles per hour or it will run on petrol power alone. In hybrid mode, which is driver selectable, both units work together which is known as ‘boosting’. When the driver stops accelerating both motors will deactivate temporarily allowing the car to glide and thus save on fuel whilst recuperating energy.

There is no doubt that the Audi success story continues. Whilst some car makers struggle, Audi had its best ever sales last year, shifting nearly 1.5 million units worldwide. That’s up over ten percent on the previous year despite the world recession. Not being ones to rest on their laurels however, the company plan an investment in the future of some 13 billion in research and new models over the next few years.

This means that in just three or four years the Audi range will have expanded to some 42 models, including variants. There’s the regular range, the S range and the RS range with hatchbacks, Avants and Sport backs. There will also be a new generation R8. Vorsprung durch Technik, indeed.

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A New Era of Engines


Motorists are beginning to despair for their future motoring. The rising cost of fuel, for which the government must take a large portion of the blame, has really started to bite. Many people rely on their cars, whether it is for work or because they live in rural areas, for example. Public transport is often cited as an alternative but bus companies won’t service unprofitable routes and the cost of train tickets for regular travel is for many people greater than that of running a small vehicle. Fortunately, car manufacturers are not sitting idly by and, now that the government in its wisdom has decided to tax electric cars from 2015, are working hard on ever more fuel efficient engines.

In addition to hybrid technology and the fuel-sipping motors already on offer, there are other systems undergoing viability testing. Mazda, for example, are confidently trumpeting their ‘SkyActiv’ diesel technology. Briefly, the idea is that instead of raising a diesel engine’s compression, they lower it which allows the fuel to ignite earlier in the combustion cycle. Although this produces a smaller ‘bang’ the effect lasts longer promoting torque and refinement. Because the compression ratio is lower the engine does not have to be so hefty, resulting in a lighter unit which has better torque and achieves a 20% fuel saving.

Another interesting new concept is flywheel technology http://panniekazino.com/ which has already appeared on some experimental vehicles. Flywheels can store the energy on hybrid vehicles that would be otherwise lost under braking, for use again under acceleration. They are much cleaner and cheaper to make and, now that the science has moved forward, smaller and lighter as well. The downside is that they can’t store power for long and are dependant on brake use.

As has been seen on the new Bentley V8, cylinder deactivation is already a viable fuel saving solution. This is of course terrific if you have the necessary £140k but thankfully, Volkswagen is preparing small four cylinder units, using pretty much the same method as the Bentley, that will have what is described as ‘variable displacement’ technology allowing the car to run on just two cylinders at appropriate times. Meanwhile over at Mercedes Benz their engineers are working on the Diesotto engine which aims to give petrol engine performance with the fuel efficiency of the very best diesel.

On the new and highly regarded EV, the Vauxhall Ampera, when the juice runs out a small 1.4L petrol engine steps in to act as a generator. Manufacturers are looking at ways to improve on this basic idea. Jaguar demonstrated gas turbines on its concept supercar the C-X75 – although it is thought that these won’t make production. Audi meanwhile are currently working on a small Wankel rotary engine of only 250cc for its A1 e-tron range extender concept. Add to all these experimentation ideas the cyclone external combustion engines – too complicated to detail here – and fuel saving electrically operated engine valves and you can get an idea of how car makers are pushing the envelope to keep motoring alive.

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