This weekend, Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro hits the track at the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Spa, Belgium. Not enough that the race car is powered by a V6 diesel engine. It also uses a flywheel as energy storage. Why should we care? Audi makes noises that this technology could soon show up in production cars.
“In the R18, a V6 diesel engine sends drive to the rear wheels, while for the front axle, the energy is electrically recuperated and fed into a flywheel. This can then be returned to the front wheels during acceleration. Of interest here is that Audi has chosen this technology over batteries. Why? According to Wolfgang Ullrich who heads up Audi’s Motorsport division, even the most advanced cells would have been too heavy.”
Ullrich says that this it not just tinkering with race toys:
“I can safely state that the things we’re testing with flywheel energy storage are of interest to our production colleagues too. The combination of different systems is an aspect that will have to be considered in various applications in the future.”