Is Audi Wankeling Without Permission?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
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is audi wankeling without permission

Automotive News [sub] reports that Audi may be going against the wishes of its parent company by introducing a Wankel rotary range-extender for the trial version of its A1 E-tron EREV, which will begin fleet testing in Germany later this year. Volkswagen reportedly wants each of its ten brands to agree on a common EV strategy in order to cut costs, but Audi is looking for a more refined concept for its range-extender in order to compete with BMW’s forthcoming Megacity lightweight city car, a consideration which caused the luxury brand to settle on a rotary range-extending engine. The German press reports that Audi’s decision has left it “at odds” with its parent company, and they describe the situation as “anarchic.” An Audi spokesman, however, tells AN [sub] that

There is no problem between VW and Audi

But a Wankel engine is hardly the kind of cost-cutting move towards commonality that VW had envisioned for its concern-wide EV effort, and bosses from the firms corporate headquarters have not yet commented on the story. And considering that the Wankel-powered Mazda RX-8 was recently yanked from the European market for its gas-guzzling ways, it’s hard to see Audi making the Wankel work. Still, we’ll wait for VW to comment and for the results of the A1 E-tron’s fleet testing (which will determine if the concept is production-ready) before we pass judgment.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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4 of 30 comments
  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Jan 04, 2011

    Basic creative thinking is an improvement for any part of VW-Group who have been doing the automotive equivalent of hands over ears "la-la-la-la-la-diesel-la-la-la-la".

  • Dimwit Dimwit on Jan 04, 2011

    Don't forget the bones of NSU are in Audi somewhere. It would be funny if the offspring of Wankel was in the basement somewhere, hidden away amongst the detritus of Horst, Wanderer and Autounion beavering away at new uses of old tech.

  • NOPR NOPR on Jan 05, 2011

    I think its an interesting choice for a hybrid because of the rotary's not-yet-mentioned achilles heel: flooding. Many a rotary owner has experienced difficulty starting their car after turning it on, moving in 10 feet, and turning it off again. The engines don't like this. Im not sure how often it would cycle on and off in a range extended EV application, but it could be an issue.

  • Route88 Route88 on Jan 06, 2011

    Mmm ... Did the Audi people really look the "etron" word in a french dictionary ?