The Audi R8 E-Tron

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Audi has recently unveiled its pure electric vehicle named the Audi R8 E-tron. This is a midengine flagship GT and would become available to the market by year’s end. Despite these pronouncements, there are still many issues that have affected the vehicle from becoming a fixture in dealerships all across the world.

In a recent report by Car and Driver Magazine, the current spiraling battery costs and the limited battery range have affected the delivery of the R8 E-tron. These two factors may result in stopping the program in its entirety. This though has been addressed by Corporate Communications Manager for Audi of America Brad Stertz, as he assured the public that the program has not been derailed. He did stress that the R8 E-tron is a road based laboratory instead of a prototype about to enter production.

According to Stertz, “All along, Inglostadt has been saying there would be a limited production run at first.” He was referring to the corporate base of Audi AG during a telephone interview. He followed it up by saying, “The plan for the R8 E-tron is for the production of ten in an initial series run, which will continue to serve as a technology platform.” He did say that the ten vehicles would strictly be for “internal use only” and the carmaker would “consider the circumstances surrounding the feasibility of subsequent builds.” He did not provide a timetable nor did he directly address the prospects of the R8 E-tron making its way to dealerships by the end of the year.

The vehicle has been in the works for several years, as it first unveiled the concept car during the 2009 Frankfurt motor show. It also drove an R8 E-tron prototype at the 12.9 mile Nürburgring racetrack in Germany as it set a lap record at eight minutes nine seconds for an electric powered, production intent vehicle. The vehicle that ran the lap at the racetrack had a lithium-ion battery pack having 49 kilowatt hours of capacity. The rear driven coupe accelerated from zero to sixty at 4.6 seconds according to the carmaker.

The range is estimated at 134 miles which is an improvement to other electric vehicles in its class. This is attributable to the high energy capacity, which compared to the Nissan Leaf with roughly half the batter capacity. The R8 E-tron’s range is lower than the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive prototypes, which Mercedes estimates at 155 miles.

Mr. Stertz reiterates, “Ingolstadt is continuing to move forward on plug-in hybrid E-tron models for volume production.” This accents the hesitation the carmaker has in developing purely electric vehicle and this conforms to the recent statements by Audi executives on preference of plug-in hybrid powetrain vehicles over purely electric cars.

Audi in pursuing this program, would be introducing its plug-in hybrid variation for the A3 model as a sedan by 2014. The larger A4 sedan as well as its full-size Q7 crossover are also expected to have plug-in technology innovation within the next two to three years.

Audi EV Program Goes One Step Further

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One of the highlights in the ongoing Frankfurt Motor Show is the Audi electric concept. The Audi Concept is called the A2 and it has all the elements of a roadster and racecar, fun car and city car. It has 480 kilograms allowing for seating for two individuals, with a sliding roof for entry that can remain open for sun while on the road.

According to the company, the technological innovations are geared for individuals who are interested in the technology and are interested about new designs appropriate for their age and status. The specific target market are those urbanites whose lifestyle reflects modernity as well as driving acumen.

The A2 concept car is made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) with the car’s driver cockpit is a CFRP monocoque with an aluminum structure. This full construction makes it ultra lightweight with a low curb weight of 480 kg. The wishbone suspension is a combination of CFRP and aluminum located with freestanding 21 inch wheels.

The car used cladding technology allowing 21 inch wheels are very light with a variant of the blade design from the Audi e-tron models. Overall, the car’s wheel measurements are 125/60 for the front wheels and 145/50 for the back wheels. The vehicle also uses pushrod technology, allowing for four disc brakes for more stopping power, similar to what is used in Formula One cars. As a result, the turning circle measures in at nine meters, which is deal for city streets. The steering does not need extra power because of the low weight of the vehicle.

For safety, there are crumple zones both at the front and rear areas with two airbags for a greater degree of passive safety. There is also an assistance system assisting the driver to avoid pedestrians and other road hazards.

The A2 car’s battery is mounted behind the seats and the 90 kg lithium-ion battery is able to store 7.1 kWh of electrical energy. The vehicle’s electric motors produce 15 kW of continuous power and 47 Nm of torque. The motors have single speed transmission and mounted behind the rear wheels. The vehicle can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 16.9 seconds and is able to reach 60 km/h in six seconds. The driving range is about 45 miles and a full recharge can be obtained in 20 minutes using a 400 volt three phase current and an hour with a 230-volt household current.

Audi has also introduced Audi Wireless Charging (AWC). This new concept allows for contactless induction charging, which uses a coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter). When the vehicle is placed in a parking lot with a special plate connected to the power grid, the 3.6 kW primary coil set on the plate generates a high-frequency alternating field thus charging the car’s battery through an alternating magnetic field that induces an alternating current across the air gap in the secondary coil in the vehicle. Only when the vehicle is directly over the plate can the process occur and the coils are specific to one another.