Audi debuts higher-voltage system for more efficient, powerful drivetrains

Audi 100 2.5 TDI

Although simple in nature, Audi’s latest development is a massive testiment to how far automotive engineering has come, and how the current technology is being pushed to its limit. The German marque has developed a new higher voltage electrical rail for future drivetrains, starting with the A6 TDI and RS5 TDI concepts.

The new technology sees the 12-volt standard fall to the wayside in favour of a more efficient 48-volt rail, that will be used to power important components on its vehicles’ drivetrains. A new electrical compressor is one example that operates on the rail, independent of the engine, making it more efficient without any power loss.

Audi explains the process in more detail:

The 48‑volt electrical system features new storage technologies and delivers much more power than the 12‑volt system with lead batteries. That makes it an important element of the Audi strategy of electrifying various stages of the drivetrain.

Essentially, this marks a move away from traditional fossil fuel-only drivetrains and towards, what Audi deems, “mild hybrids”. Prof. Hackenberg, one of Audi’s Technical Development heads, explains the reasoning behind the move:

We are using the full bandwidth of electrification in our drive principles strategy. Running part of the vehicle electrical system at 48 volts plays a central role in this. […] It enables us to make more energy available. That paves the way for new technologies with which we can make our cars more sporty, more efficient and more convenient to use.

We could see more manufacturers taking electric car technology and implementing it into standard diesel and petrol engines. Audi claims that an improvement of 0.4-litres/100km is attainable, which, based on today’s fuel prices, is a massive gain.

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Audi 100 2.5 Tdi

The past and the future: The 1989 100 2.5 TDI and the RS 5 TDI Concept.

Audi Rs 5 Tdi Concept

Unlike traditional engine-belt driven compressors, the electrical compressor will increase power and efficiency.

Noch Mehr Kraft Und Effizienz ? Die Neue 48-volt-technologie Von Audi

The stored energy will be sent along the 48-volt rail, and in turn, drive an electrical compressor.

Audi Rs 5 Tdi Concept

The 48-volt rail will be independent of the 12-volt rail, and power will be stored in a battery at the rear of the car.

Andy Walker
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