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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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      Val
      • 10 Months Ago
      Electric driven rear axle sounds a lot like what citroen has been selling for years. Volvo also has some models with it. And regenerative braking is in no way fixed. It's just software that determines the negative torque applied. It can easily be modulated by the brake pedal. But companies like tesla have decided to leave that pedal connected only to the hydraulic system, and do the regen when the throttle is not pressed down. Those patents sound a bit stale.
      Brian Rautio
      • 10 Months Ago
      Great, "Warning: Active Wheel Shutter Failure" dashboard messages now.
      paulwesterberg
      • 10 Months Ago
      Wheel flaps are dumb a simple areo wheel would work better and be much cheaper.
      Rob
      • 10 Months Ago
      I wonder how well the electric AWD will work in snow and ice, generally instant torque doesn't mix well with snow. I'm sure the electronics will be able to sort it out, but don't have any experience with a hybrid or EV in those conditions.
        paulwesterberg
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Rob
        In the snow it is better to drive the leaf with eco mode on which limits instant acceleration and helps to make sure that the wheels grip rather than spinning. With traction/stability control it actually handles pretty good in the snow.
        Mike
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Rob
        Haldex is electric AWD. Many Volvo/Audi/VW and the Aventador LP700-4 use Haldex. Some Audi and older VW use torsen AWD systems. VW/Audi do not differentiate their branding of 4Motion and Quattro when you get either a Haldex or torsen based system.
        Andrew Ramos
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Rob
        Yes, instant torque does mix well with snow. It's lag and kickdowns that don't mix well with snow. How could having a better response that more accurately carries out the driver's intentions be bad for snow?
      dadslife83
      • 10 Months Ago
      The only active shutters I want to see are on a pickup tailgate.
        Andrew Ramos
        • 10 Months Ago
        @dadslife83
        Did you know you typically have considerably less aero drag with the tailgate closed and upright than with it down?
          GreenDriver
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Andrew Ramos
          Mythbusters did a show on this and found that it was much more efficient with the tailgate closed.
          GreenDriver
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Andrew Ramos
          It had something to do with airflow separation.
          piggybox
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Andrew Ramos
          That counter-intuitive, but good to know.
      Tony Belding
      • 10 Months Ago
      I seriously do not get the wheel flaps idea. Why not just use a simple, solid wheel cover?
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