For years, the concept of an electric turbocharger was essentially a joke sold on eBay to boost power in your slammed Civic, but in the last five years it has moved from an idea on a piece of paper to a feasible reality. Audi has already toyed with a showcase of the cutting-edge tech in road cars with the RS5 TDI concept. Now, reports suggest an electric turbo may make it to the streets as soon as next year in the next-gen Q7 (spy shot pictured above).

"I can confirm we are working on the development of the e-boost definitely," said Ulrich Weiss, Audi's diesel engine boss, to Australia-based Drive. He didn't give an exact timeframe but hinted at sometime next year, possibly in the Q7. He also suggested the chance of an RS-branded diesel model in the vein of the RS5 TDI concept on the horizon, as well.

This tech isn't entirely new for the folks in Ingolstadt. Audi's R18 endurance racer already uses such a system to capture waste heat from the engine, converting it to electric power to further power the hybrid car. The RS5 TDI concept employs a similar idea with a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 with an electric supercharger to make up for the turbo lag. It's able to pump out 385 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque and allegedly sprint to 62 miles per hour in four seconds.

If a version of this system makes it to the next Q7 with its rumored weight loss of roughly 800 pounds, we're thinking this might be one of the few SUVs that could hold the interest of enthusiast drivers.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      It looks like they have finally turned it into a minivan, because that's how drivers will use it. It is funny to me that Americans seem so embarrassed to own minivans, when it is exactly what so many of them need. So we end up with minivans pretending to be SUVs, with less practicality.
        • 1 Year Ago
        I would say it can also be said that it looks like a station wagon with high wheels.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I believe the physicists in the shop are confusing the journos who are confounding the motorheads. This is how electronic turbos work. Build a turbo where the turbo's shaft also contains an electric motor stator. The turbo can function as a normal turbo, and if you don't connect any of the wires up, the only difference is you've added crappy inertial mass to your shaft. Next, hook your turbo's electric motor to a load (battery, or maybe a motor driving the wheels) and you can use that motor as REALLY high speed alternator/generator. Don't get too excited, as this is small motor, and we won't be powering very much with it, but during steady state in a race car at high RPM, it'll recapture juice for what comes later. This is where the physicists (and press releases) like to say they are using heat to power electric motors (get it because combustion engines are heat generators, and that combustion is resulting in electricity). In my mind, this is where pressure from the ICE engine escaping during the exhaust stroke is turning the turbo, which in this situation is creating electricity, however you choose to use it. That's because I'm a motorhead and my model for an ICE engine is an air pump. We're both right. Now, consider an engine where there is not an abundance of exhaust pressure (or you've just initiated it, and your turbo's slow inertia from a slow previous state is making it lag behind in speed relative to exhaust speed.) This system lets you apply electricity back to the motor on the turbo shaft and spin it quickly. How quickly? Most electric motors have instant peak torque, so if want it to accelerate to full boosting turbine speed of 100,000 rpm, an electric motor is theoretically a great way to kick it's angular velocity ass into gear. So you see electric turbos are real, and they are used on ALL F1 cars this year (google MGU-H) in addition to some other racecars. They are not crappy little fans trying to fake being a turbo, and they are not distinct and separate from a traditional turbo, as they are still very much a traditional turbo.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Get ready for another bloated, heavy FUV with seats for 7 obese passengers and their slurpees.
      T. C.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I thought this blog was written by people with some technological knowledge... There is NO SUCH THING as an "electric turbocharger!" A turbocharger, by definition, captures the energy in exhaust gases to compress incoming combustion air. What is described in the article is a gas-turbine electric generator, essentially a smaller version of what exists in a natural gas fueled power plant.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @T. C.
        You are incorrect. An electric turbocharger (turbo-supercharger - turbine driven supercharger - to use its full title) is very different from an electric supercharger. An electric turbo features an impeller driven by exhaust gases, and this creates electricity. This is then sent to the compressor via wires rather than a mechanical hook-up, thus aiding efficiency. It would be too bad if some people who post on Autoblog had "some technical knowledge..."
          • 1 Year Ago
          Um... no. I have never seen/heard what you are talking about Aussie. What vehicle has a "exhaust - turbine - electric compressor - intake manifold" setup? It would seem that setup would have little to no spooling lag, but much worse efficiency than a shaft connected turbo. The "turbo" does indeed refer to the turbine which is spun using exhaust gases. The "Charger" refers to the "Air Charge" going into the intake under higher pressure. A "supercharger" still has that "air charge" to the intake, and thus will boost power... but is not called a "turbo" because it is usually not driven by an impeller, but rather a belt-driven, or sometimes a separate motor. Neither of those items has much to do with this "electric turbocharger" in the normal sense. The "turbo" part may be the same... but the "charger" now refers to an Electric charger for the battery... rather than the original automotive meaning of "air charge".
      • 1 Year Ago
      Audi! Always looking for new ways to make their cars more complicated, less reliable and expensive to own and repair. "Dump it after the warranty expires" still applies here...
        • 1 Year Ago
        I agree. Simple is good. In this case however, when (not if) this thing breaks, the car will still work just fine. The only difference will be a bit of turbo lag, something that many people might not even notice.
      joe shmoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      That shape Minivan was my first thought.
      Not me
      • 1 Year Ago
      Holy chargers batman! Twin turbo AND a supercharger..... That can't be good for heat and weight....
      • 1 Year Ago
      More Vaporware from Audi!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I remember reading many years ago that Saab planning to install an electric turbo in their cars. Too bad they never came through with it.
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