• Mar 2, 2010
Audi A1 e-tron concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

No, Wankel is not really a verb. At least, not that we know of. But it is the last name of the man who designed the rotary engine, and we think our man Felix would be more than pleased with the latest application of his barrel-shaped internal combustion powerplant. In case you missed it before, that would be as the range-extender buried inside Audi's new A1 e-tron electric vehicle, which is currently on display at the Geneva Motor Show.

As we told you before, Audi's smallest e-tron features a 12-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack that feeds a steady stream of electrons to a front-mounted electric motor with 102 peak horsepower. The aforementioned Wankel rotary engine features one lone rotor, displaces 254cc and sits just aft of the battery pack under the rear seat. Why a Wankel? Audi says the complete package weighs in at just 154 pounds and puts out a nice, steady stream of power at a constant 5,000 RPM. Check out our gallery of live images from the show floor in Geneva below.




Live photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is this merely pie in the sky or are they actually thinking about building it?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Cool Idea, and a engine that altogether weights 154 lbs, go Audi.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's the nice thing about Wankels... they don't sound or feel like they're working very hard at high revs--5,000 rpm sounds and feels like about 3,000 rpm in a DOHC motor. The RX-8 has a beeper to remind you to shift up at *9,000.*

      It'd be very interesting if the rotary engine finally found its niche as an extremely compact, lightweight range-extender. NSU and Mazda surely couldn't have seen that one coming in the 1960s!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Indeed they do. Do a quick google search for the SAE paper examining the 13B MSP (RX-8 engine) and you'll find data and some easily digestible graphs showing the BMEP (basically how well an engine makes power independent of things like volume) and BSFC (Brake Specific Fuel Consumption, or how much fuel it takes to make a given unit of power).
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks better in white.
      • 4 Years Ago
      yay, another e-tron (yawn)
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know the Wankel's are rev happy but wouldn't it running constantly at 5 grand be a little... buzzy?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rotaries are more well known in the prop plane world because they have very reasonable fuel consumption and power when put at a constant load. Planes do this because obviously prop speed has to be maintained to keep the plane in the air but cars don't. They accelerate in short bursts and in the city are often idling which is why RX cars haven't been known for decent fuel consumption. This however is a generator application so it runs at a constant speed to produce electricity, much like it would in a prop plane. A rotary can do this without breaking a sweat, being light, quiet and relatively efficient. A piston engine would make its presence known far more.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You won't hear it over the electric motor's buzz. Or they'll blame the motor for the Wankel's buzz.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @michael

        I know the difference. I'm speaking of Wankel rotaries not radial piston engines or other forms of rotary engine. The spinning triangles do indeed have some very useful applications to prop planes. And if you think Wankels are only in cars, it's pretty clear you don't know much about them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nateb123 - wrong type of rotary. Aircraft rotary engines and Wankel rotary engines are two completely different machines. Also, Wankel's are definitely not known for their fuel efficiency. If anything, they are know for high RPM, high HP, low torque numbers, and low fuel efficiency.
      • 4 Years Ago
      are Wankles quiet or noisy?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The answer is "yes". The engine ITSELF (mechanical noise) is quiet, but when revved up and producing big power, the exhaust can be earsplittingly loud. This is true of racing rotaries in particular, and I've made this observation myself. At SCCA/Rally America rally races, all the cars have to pass a sound check that limits their decibels. Even though the rotaries meet that rule, you still hear them more out on the stages. A VTEC Honda rally car seems similar in terms of noise and character. IF the exhaust is engineered correctly, they can be really quiet.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's so fun to say wankel...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm curious why they didn't cram the Wankel under the hood (if possible) and put a much larger battery pack in the rear.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cost. That Wankel is a hell of a lot cheaper than a massive lithium battery pack.

        Kudos for using the rotary in it's best niche; steady power in a very compact, lightweight package.

        I thought about building an EV myself, and one of my ideas was using a boneyard RX7 mill to power a generator range extender. Mine would have been much cruder, and less effective. Basically, the idea was that I could run it pure EV for whatever range it could run, and when I needed extended range, the RX mill could power the motor. I still want to do that, but I'm waiting until I have a much better shop built before starting.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wankel Rotary engines are indeed used in propeller driven aircraft. Although they are more commonly Mazda automotive rotary engines converted over for use in experimental aircraft, there is a company (Mistral) that is currently in the process of certifying the Wankel rotary as a certified aircraft engine.

      The old rotary aircraft engines were actually radial engines where the cylinders rotated around the crankshaft. The crankshaft was bolted to the fire wall and the engine block and cylinders rotated around the fixed crankshaft. Talk about slow throttle response!

      http://www.mistral-engines.com/Technology
        • 4 Years Ago
        But they did get some great gyroscopic action going, which was the whole point. :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      screw the white one, what's going on with the audi sport a1 in the background?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wanted to see the hatch up so I can see the battery cut out window feature. That looks hot, R8 like.
        • 4 Years Ago
        good eye. id like to know more about that too!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is this the 5th A1 article in 48 hours?
        • 4 Years Ago
        *them
        • 4 Years Ago
        i slipped then a fiver.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Be careful what you say around here....especially about Audi....oooooohhhhhooooooo

        *sarcasm
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