• Mar 3rd 2010 at 9:43AM
  • 25
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
  • 25 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wankel is indeed a verb, at least in Dutch. Google says it is the English verb for this is to waver.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is an interesting engineering solution to a problem. The EREVs approach is clearly superior to the pure BEV with today's battery technology. But the true EREV like the Volt suffer from a relatively marginal price and cost problem.

      Audi answers this by building a 'not-quite EREV'. It substitutes a tiny, lighter, gen-set incapable of maintaining charge. So it is not a 'Charge Sustaining ' mode of operation. What it is instead is a is a "Slower Charge Depleting' mode of operation . This allows a smaller cheaper battery. After the plug-in mileage is drawn down, the gen-set is engaged much alike a CS Volts engine is. but it is insufficient to replenish or maintain battery charge. It merely slows that depletion, until the car must grind to a stop in 150Km. Hopefully that range is sufficient for most days of use.

      It has a smaller battery than a BEV or an EREV, making it cheaper, and lighter. And it has an alternative to the BEVs needing a tow when it runs out of juice. It has a built tin recharger, than can operate by the side of the road to rebuild charge, without need of a tow truck. this partially relieves 'Range Anxiety".
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Ever calculated how much power you need at 120km/h? "

        Have you?
        Here is an online app to calculate which defaults to small car type values(1800lbs/cd .34):

        http://ecomodder.com/forum/tool-aero-rolling-resistance.php

        Result:
        120KM/h = ~22HP.

        That is a constant 2HP more than the genset produces.

        So Stan is correct. The Genset is underpowered. It is largely there for emergency use. Probably part of the reason they stuck in a tiny fuel tank, to discourage thoughts of road trips.

        I seriously doubt they would build it like this. It is just an interesting concept.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good Find Hans.

        They also have a tradeoff pages which shows the Wankel is more expensive/less efficient/higher emissions.

        The Wankel is in there for size/weight/NVH.

        I think a Lotus Omnivore should have a lot of potential, with a highly efficient 2 stroke design.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Interesting material for comparison:
        http://www.fev.com/data/documents/CH-E-Vehicle_2010_web.pdf
        There, a Fiat 500 is powered with a similarly spec'ed electric engine but a larger REM. So if the A1 is one step up in terms of size, what does that tell us.
        (thx crumar on heise.de/autos !)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Spam. Show your numbers.

        You saying it is enough in light of calculations showing otherwise is meaningless.

        Even a small car like this one will take > 20HP (15KW) to go 120km/h.

        • 5 Years Ago
        @snowdog

        Oh yes - I have calculated that, as it is what I make my money with ;-)
        And YES, we are calculating the power needed to move a car in all the common drive cycles, as well as some established "customer cycles" + cycles derived from our own fleet tests... and 15kW is enough for this car.

        And NO, I do not work for Audi or anybody else in the automotive industry ;-)

        • 5 Years Ago
        How would you get the Idea it is not capable of maintaining charge?
        Ever calculated how much power you need at 120km/h? This car will need less than 15kW...
        and have you ever looked at your average speed on a trip? it is merely impossible to get over 100km/h if not 99% of your driving is on a highway...

        So this will be easily maintaining the charge.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fantastic idea.. when I can buy one... just one small problem.. the nice people in the marketing department will need a new name for the French market... the word ETRON has a distinctly unpalatable name... it means 'shit'..... in french....
      • 5 Years Ago
      As this is the most "conventional" looking of the 3 E-Tron concepts, I suspect this is the one Audi will put on the market first. The production version will probably get a somewhat larger engine and fuel tank, though.

      Wankel engines are less fuel efficient, but if that engine is rarely used, then the Wankel advantages of lighter weight and smaller size override the lower fuel economy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Note that the Wankel engine can continue to run when you're slowing down, standing still etc, thus on average the power provided can match the needs. I think the Audi engineers did their work well before they build it, don't expect we will know better. Although the Wankel concept is intrinsically less efficient than a normal piston ICE and care needs to be taken for emissions, it does offer several advantages incl compactness, low weight, low vibration levels and very few moving parts. Audi may have optimised the basic design, added direct injection(s) and overall made it to run as efficiently as possible at that single speed (tuned intake and exhaust trajectories). Any equally powered piston ICE will be larger, contain a lot more parts and will need more sound muffling and vibration dampening.
      • 5 Years Ago
      GIMMIE. NOW.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree but this car, or at least this model would only be acceptable for those who have a short commute there and back. As said before anyone driving more than a hundred miles is gonna be in trouble! i think it's a good concept but won't sell if it ever gets the chance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Im finnally interrested to buy this summer, if it's not ready and on sale near where i live
      this summer then i will keep my dodge neon fitted with a volo chips and a bottle of hho.

      It's been 2-3 years that i said in this site to fit a small inboard gasoline or diesel electric generator battery booster-recharger and performance enhancer. It's a very basic devise that even a child can do. This little thing that exist since at least 100 years ago( gasoline engine that spin an electric generator) can give you unlimited range at normal speed and only increase the cost of the entire car marginally and add few weight and it take few space. It's approximately 100 time better then the volt range extender, LOL LOL LOL.
      harlanx6
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have read all the comments and I still like it. I kinda think the Audi guys know what they have here.
        harlanx6
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        I still like it!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        The "Audi Guys" are just producing yet another concept, that will never get built.
        As such they don't have to engineer for the real world.

        So they can build it with a 20HP genset, that would get them lambasted to hell and back if they actually delivered it in such a form for going into limp home mode as soon as you exceed battery range. And for getting significantly less than Prius MPG when running the genset in a smaller, yet more expensive car.

        This is a pure concept that will never see the light of day, because quite simply it isn't fit to.

        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Agreed. Most of the comments are blather. Ideas have to start somewhere and explore possibilities.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's true 15kw would be enough (just) to keep this Audi's Battery topped up... if you dont rag it... or live in a hilly region.. i do both unfortunately.
      30kw genset please Audi.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why Wrankel? Don't forget that Audi under the name Auto Union, own NSU who made the first Rotary engine car., the NSU Spider
      http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSU_Spider

      In 1991, the Mazda 787B won Le Mans before been banned

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_787B
      http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_787B
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wonder how much that'll cost to fix when out of warranty...
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