2015 Audi A3 e-tron

Audi might have a few tricks up its sleeve for the coming years, with the Brits at Autocar uncovering a pair of patent filings made by the German luxury brand. The first is something we've seen before - wheel flaps - while the second is an evolution of one of Audi's trademark technologies.

We last saw wheel flaps on the Ford Atlas Concept in 2013, but the futuristic fuel-saving tech has so far failed to arrive on a production car. Audi may be seeking to change that, patenting the flaps that open and close automagically based on airflow. They can also open if the brakes get too hot.

The second patent is an evolution of Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive. The new AWD system uses an electrically driven rear axle and wheel sensors to figure out when and at which corner the car might lose traction, and is targeted largely at hybrid offerings, which is a field Audi has only recently dipped its toe into.

In a hybrid, when the electric motor attempts to capture energy through the regenerative brakes, it can cause the wheels to brake too suddenly. That's because brake forces on current regen systems are fixed. The new system would allow more variety in the braking force, meaning that not only would the car be more stable, we could also stop complaining about ultra-grabby regenerative brakes.

Both of these technologies strikes as full of potential. Were we the gambling sort, we'd wager that the wheel flaps have a fairly realistic chance of making production at some point. The new AWD system seems more ambitious, although as it's Audi's forte, we like the chances of it arriving at some point in the future.
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