• Mar 1, 2010
2011 Audi A1 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Audi still hasn't released any images of its new electric A1 e-tron concept, but it has revealed some details of the car. Unlike the two previous e-tron sports car concepts that were both pure battery electric models, this one is a range-extended EV. Like the Chevrolet Volt, the A1 e-tron uses a smaller battery pack that allows it to go up to 31 miles on a single charge with no emissions.

Once the battery is depleted, an internal combustion engine kicks in to drive a 15-kilowatt generator and keep the A1 going. However, unlike the Volt or Fisker Karma, the A1 is using a single-rotor Wankel engine to drive the generator. While Wankels are not renowned for their fuel efficiency (much the opposite in fact), in this application it could work well thanks to its high power density.

The range with the Wankel running is bumped up by another 124 miles to a total of 155. With only a 15kW generator available to sustain the battery, it will be interesting to see how much performance is degraded in that mode. Audi claims the A1 e-tron achieves 123.8 miles per gallon (U.S.) on the draft EU standard for ER-EVs. We should have more details tomorrow, so stay tuned.



[Source: Audi]

PRESS RELEASE

Ingolstadt/Geneva, 2010-03-01
AUDI AG: driveline strategy for the future – electric mobility as an integrated concept

* Q5 hybrid to be unveiled in 2010, A8 hybrid can be ordered from late 2011
* World premiere for A1 e-tron study at Geneva Motor Show
* "e-tron" to be Audi's brand name for electric mobility

Audi is working intensively to answer questions of future mobility. In late 2010/early 2011 the Q5 hybrid will reach the market, the first Audi with a combination of gasoline engine and electric motor. In Geneva Audi is exhibiting the A8 hybrid for the first time as a concept car: Its CO2 emissions of 144 g/km (231.75 g/mile) are the best figure in the full-size category. Another world premiere in Geneva is the A1 e-tron design study, which shows that Audi's expertise in electric drive systems extends down into the compact car segment. At the end of 2012 Audi will launch the e-tron electric car that was seen last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA). A small series will be built, and will be the first electric car to reach the market.

In the words of Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG: "In future our customers will be able to choose from an increasingly broad range of driveline technologies. To accompany our high-efficiency TDI and FSI engines, we shall offer electric power in the best possible forms for a wide range of mobility needs. The hybrid driveline will be followed by all-electric vehicles." The "e-tron" name will have an important part to play. "Just as "quattro" has become a synonym for all-wheel drive, so "e-tron" is to be the Audi brand name for electric mobility," continues Stadler.

When developing alternative drivelines, Audi is pursuing a strategy of introducing each technology where it is appropriate for specific model lines and markets, in other words where it will offer customers significant benefits.

"We regard the full hybrid as we know it today primarily as a very specific technology for reducing fuel consumption. In due course plug-in hybrids will demonstrate their strong points when drivers expect to cover longer distances in the pure electric mode, in combination with a conventional engine," says Michael Dick, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG.

According to Dick: "The strength of the electric car clearly lies in the urban mobility area, where the demand for emission-free local transportation will strongly increase." In addition to hybrids and electric cars, Audi continues to develop its long-term competence in the development of basic propulsion concepts using fuel cells and hydrogen as an energy carrier.

Every year Audi invests around two billion euros in development projects, with the focus on continued progress in internal combustion engine design and associated areas. Electric mobility is a further priority: In this area the e-tron show car seen at the IAA was a dramatic signal. At the same time, the various activities are being grouped together strategically. Audi has established the e-performance project house to deal with electric mobility topics. Since the autumn of 2009 a team has been at work on the research project of the same name, with support from the Federal German Ministry for Education and Research. Members of the team, consisting of AUDI AG development staff and scientists from various universities, are working on the development of a new overall electric vehicle concept, including the body, battery and power electronics.

Audi A1 e-tron
Audi will be expanding its "e-tron" model family step by step: the A1 e-tron design study that the company is exhibiting at the Geneva Motor Show is an innovative Mega City Vehicle (MCV). Like the sports cars in the same family, it is electrically propelled and has a range of more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) in city traffic. With a peak power output of 75 kW (102 hp), the A1 e-tron is also fun to drive.

When the battery's energy supply is exhausted, it is recharged by an exceptionally compact "range extender" consisting of a single-rotor Wankel engine and an electrical generator with a charge rating of up to 15 kW.

This device gives the A1 e-tron an additional range of 200 kilometers (124 miles). According to the draft standard for determining the fuel consumption of range-extender vehicles, the mean fuel consumption is 1.9 liters per 100 kilometers (123.8 US mpg), equivalent to CO2 emissions of only 45 g/km (72.42 g/mile).

Audi A8 hybrid
Audi is displaying the A8 hybrid as an engineering study at the Geneva Motor Show. Its two power units – the 2.0 TFSI engine and the electric motor – have a combined output of 180 kW (245 hp) and a torque of 480 Nm (354.03 lb-ft). They give the car the same outstanding performance as a large-capacity conventional six-cylinder engine. This systematic downsizing demonstrates its fuel-consumption advantages in combination with the electric driveline: the average fuel consumption is only 6.2 l/100 km (37.94 US mpg), equivalent to CO2 emissions of 144 g/km (231.75 g/mile).

The Audi A8 hybrid uses the parallel hybrid configuration – a highly efficient principle that avoids unnecessary friction and power losses. The powerful electric motor integrated between the 155 kW (211 hp) four-cylinder petrol engine and the eight-speed tiptronic transmission can supply a further 33 kW (45 hp) to the driveline, as well as a vigorous 211 Nm (155.63 lb-ft) of torque.

The A8 design study is a full hybrid, that is to say the gasoline engine or the electric motor can propel it either separately or together. In the pure electric drive mode the car can reach 65 km/h (40.39 mph) and cover a distance of more than two kilometers (1.2 miles).


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  • 43 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I went to trade school for car mechanics in Neckarsulm. Besides disassembling Audi V8s for the fun and the laugh of it, we kept high old NSU heritage. Wankel cutaways were in every corner. Would be funny if new Wankel cutaways will be added about 35 years after the demise.

      I guess when run near its power maximum the Wankel is not bad. Combine this with the small packaging and it makes a good combination for range extended EVs.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah. I realized too that a slightly less-efficient engine is fine if you're not even going to be using it most of the time. My S4 gets 15 MPG, but if it only did that after my first 30 miles of the day, I'd barely ever use any fuel, since most of the time it would never even be used. Really good approach they are using.
        -Taylor
      • 4 Years Ago
      @LS2LS7

      Compression ratios are useless and engine efficiency isn´t increasing linearly with it.
      Your assumptions about reliability, durability, emissions are plain false. I noticed that many people throw here MPG numbers. MPG numbers means nothing because in every single car, engine is running at very low load in which BSFC(if internet experts even know what it is) is more than double than at full load - atleast in rotaries. In terms of reliability, again, rotary is proved as most reliable racing engine, also much cheaper to build, maintain and rebuild. Durability, where 4-stroke racing engine needs rebuild after just 24 race hours, racing rotaries without missing a beat can run unopened for 100 hours.

      In sum, high power/weight, high power/volume, reliability and durability at full load, comparable fuel consumption, low emissions of NOx and low cost - I bet that Audi is going to use one of single rotor engines of established manufactures - like Aixro.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wasn't it an Audi executive that called the Chevy Volt a failure?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7? lmao. shhh. sh!t is an important part of our posting vernacular... we mustn’t lose it!
        • 4 Years Ago
        My point is why would Audi develop a car with the same principle after calling the Volt idiotic. And I highly doubt it will be less expensive than the Volt. Basically Audi thinks it clients are Idiots for buying a car like that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        actually, he called it a "car for idiots", mainly because he (like many) doubts there will be any demand for it at the price that it actually is costing GM to build.

        So whats your point?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I just want to say I think it's funny zamafir can post "no sh!t" when I can't make any post using the works "circimference" or "accimulated" (with the proper u where the mistaken i is) because of AB's naughty word filter.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @LS7;

        Valid, but you are still comparing a supposed production car (the volt) to a concept car, and the reason Johan called the volt stupid in the first place was because the technology hasn't been developed enough for it to be profitable.

        This is a concept car, and a pretty rediculous one at that given the rotary engine. Concepts are just for making a statement, and this one says, "anything you can do, we can do sportier and with a more luxurious interior"
        • 4 Years Ago
        @LS7

        No sh!t. I know this, u know this, but that's not the dude's viewpoint. that's all im saying, his comment reflects a focus ONLY on luxury for $$, I didn't say it was an objective or all encompassing one, lol. just where he was coming from, I'm not saying it's the only viewpoint, I think that's fairly clear.

        what doesn't make sense is people's shock at audi doing this, one guy makes an off color comment about his personal opinion and the entire brand's not supposed to research this tech, lmao, what a narrow perspective of the world we've constructed in the comments.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @david;

        It was taken out of context, and not an official interview. Stop nitpicking, and debate the actual point he was making, which is a valid one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I would say that GM can have economies of scale like VW, if not larger. While VW is big in europe, GM has huge US presence, and Opel and Daewoo are still GM property. So they can price a cadillac version higher and have more affordable chevys, opels and an entry level luxury from buick for example. The fact that VW has managed to exploit their brands better doesn't mean that GM will never learn.
        • 4 Years Ago
        zamafir:
        That doesn't make sense. The Volt is expected to have lower than normal feature/materials levels for a vehicle of its price because so much money has to go into two powertrains, etc.

        Audi is not exempt from this, even with a Wankel, even if they price it lower. It just means the feature/materials levels will be low for a lower class of vehicle!

        The only way to avoid the problem the exec talked about would be for the company to take a bath on the cars just eat the cost of the extra drivetrain. Neither company is going to do that.

        The poster is correct, this car has exactly the problem the Volt has and the Audi (of America) exec who put his foot in his mouth is shown yet again to have been foolish to speak out.
        • 4 Years Ago
        zamafir:
        I didn't say the brand shouldn't research this tech, I think they should. They should instead retract their stupid statements about the tech, those are the real problem.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The wankel does draw more attention to a concept car, but the idea might not be half bad. Rotarys are small in size and run smoothly with fewer of the vibrations of small piston engines. IMHO the rotary's reputation for unreliability seems mostly due to poor cooling, poor maintenance, and abusive conditions. (ie. drastically increasing boost and drag racing) If kept at a constant rpm and load like a generator long term reliability should be greatly improved. Also its been 20 years but it might be worth noting the only japanese car to win the 24 hours of le mans was rotary powered.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Audi claims the A1 e-tron achieves 123.8 miles per gallon (U.S.) on the draft EU standard for ER-EVs."---------------This is something automakers wanted for a long time, same "miles per gallon" calculations that are achieved the same way in North America and Europe.

      This will allow automakers to test cars the same way here and there, but each region can chose its own strength of standard. USA will probably have the weakest one.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm just happy to see someone other than Mazda do a Wankel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have been building and racing rotary powered vehicles for 30 years i build single rotor engines .They are more thermally efficient than multiple rotor engines. without the centre housing they burn a lot less oil ,rx8 engines burn more oil than the previous gen engine because exhaust is in centre housing which does not dissipate heat efficiently.A rotary tuned to run at a set rpm. ie manifold lenghs and above 3000 rpm is as efficient as a piston engine. This audi engine will be cheaper and lighter than any other engine to produce . Bring it on i will put one in my lawn mower.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Something that no one has mentioned is that Wankels will easily run as multifuel engines and will run on very low octane. My understanding is that you can run a normally aspirated gasoline rotary on kerosene/diesel just by changing the injectors pulse width. IF Audi puts this rotary into production, they'll REALLY want to make sure it's reliable after the grief they had with the NSU Ro80 sedans '67-'77. There's a few companies out there besides Mazda making modern day rotaries that they can tap for the engine/technology. A rotary, multifuel, electric Audi quattro seems like the perfect car IF they can get the bugs worked out. Time will tell.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You've yet to actually back up your statement. Why would a wankel not allow for a high compression, turbodiesel configuration?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Turbos do not increase the compression ratio, they only increase the charge density. This has several mechanical and fluid dynamics (air) implications. For example, after you burn the charge, if it has enough energy to push on the piston even after expanding 15 times since combustion, if you only have an 8:1 compression ratio it will only push until it reaches 8x size and then the exhaust port opens and you throw the additional energy away.

        If you want high efficiency when burning Diesel, you need a high compression ratio. This won't have it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @LS2LS7

        Turbos and rotaries go together like peanut butter and chocolate. What are you talking about?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Burning Diesel at the very low compression ratios produced by Wankels (sub 9:1) is not efficient. Diesels usually run anywhere from 15:1 to 20:1.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just to be clear, I was refering only to the fact that a rotary will run on kerosene/diesel, not that it would necessarily be efficient. Also, it would run as a spark engine, not as a compression ignition engine. I've read old issues of car magazines from the early '70s of people in California running rotary Mazdas on kerosene, diesel, or gas. Their compression ratios are around 9.4:1. Rotapower is one company working towards production of such engines.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This is a very generous observation. I own a Mazda RX-8, and agree highly that the rotary engine lacks development support. I do not believe that Audi will invest the significant amounts required into making the rotary a comparable motor to the public, but it is nice to hear any news out there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      wow, never thought of that, makes perfect sense. compact, higher hp than torque... neat. About time the wankel returned to those who pioneered it's use in cars... and this seems like a decent option.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't understand why this would be a better option than diesel- since the wheels are driven by electric motors, isn't the goal simply to get the maximum amount of engergy out of a drop of fuel? Wouldn't a tourque-heavy engine do a better job of powering an electric generator?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Torque is more efficient than revs due to lower mass lost to centripetal force. However, this only works until you have to make the power shaft more massive or larger diameter to take the torque.

        I have no idea where the sweet spot is, but I would presume you can make a pretty efficient system at any of the rev ranges that Diesel, gas or Wankel run at.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NSU revival go!!!!!!!
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