Large crowds gathered around a rather special Audi exhibit this week as many thousands of visitors descended on Las Vegas for International CES 2013, the world’s largest electronics trade show. On show was Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro hybrid, the car that notched up an impressive overall victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours race last year with its package of cutting-edge technologies.
At the rear axle, a 3,7-litre V6 TDI engine delivers over 375 kW and around 850 N.m of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed transmission. But that’s only for starters: the car is also equipped with an innovative motor generator unit at the front axle that recovers braking energy. This is converted into direct current that accelerates a flywheel accumulator in the cockpit up to 45 000 r/min. In turn, this provides up to 150 kW to a pair of electric motors coupled to the front wheels.
When the driver exits a bend, he can call on that extra 150 kW to drive the front wheels, making the R18 e-tron an all-wheel drive racing car – at least for a few crucial seconds (hence “quattro”).