By on June 1, 2017

Audi A8 2017, Image: Audi

There’s a bit of an automotive renaissance occurring just below the radar. While pure electrics and plug-in hybrids garner endless headlines, several luxury brands are sneaking more mild hybrid arrangements under their vehicles’ hoods via a 48-volt electrical system.

Audi is a firm believer in the technology and is making moves to implement the system in numerous vehicles in its lineup, starting with the fourth-generation A8 arriving later this year. Combining regenerative braking with a small lithium battery and belt-driven alternator, the system harnesses wasted energy and is a more affordable way to tap into the benefits of hybridization. So affordable, automakers are using the KERS-like system on models as standard equipment, not a optional extra.

In this regard, Audi’s A8 is no different. The next generations of the A6 and A7 will also use the technology.

Alexander Kruse, Audi’s project head for the 48-volt enhanced ICEs, told Automotive News the brand wants to bake the system into larger models “very quickly.” The A7 is due to debut at the Frankfurt auto show this September and the A6 launches sometime in 2018. While the pair won’t receive setups quite as trick as the flagship sedan, the mechanical theories are identical.

Audi claims the system equates to an additional 12 kilowatts (16 horsepower) and 60 Newton meters (44 lb-ft) of torque on tested V6s, reducing fuel consumption by 0.7 liters per 100 km — enough to notice at the pump, if you’re paying attention. While the real draw for consumers is the added torque, the system does some of its best work when it isn’t making any.

The A8 can coast for up to 45 seconds with the engine turned off at speeds between 19 mph to 99 mph but, once the driver touches the gas, the alternator/starter combo brings the engine back up to speed.

[Image: Audi]

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4 Comments on “Audi’s Next-Gen A8 Adds Mild Hybrid Arrangement as Standard; Other Models to Follow...”

  • avatar

    While I am a big fan of automotive progress, I will also say this: a more complicated system and more difficult to repair. What could go wrong? German cars are not usually known for their reliability…
    Or maybe (just maybe) there will less stress on the ICE and thus making the whole propulsion system more reliable. We’ll see but usually reviews given by owners of these barges are not a good indication of reliability as they own them for only a few years.

    • 0 avatar

      No, but Audi A8s are. Conventional wisdom would put them in the Maserati category as complicated, unconventional, Eurotrash. Conventional wisdom is wrong here. Mechanically they are no more complicated than an A4, and there is more space under the hood and inside the body to work on them. Electrically, they end up with the same features and architecture as loaded versions of other VAG cars. The piece de resistance is corrosion prevention, which is exceptional. Fifteen years in, none of the bolts are stuck and nothing has rotted out to loosen the car up.

      A8s are not Civics or Miatas, but their running costs would not be out of place in the near-luxury class. Since it’s a full-size luxury sedan, that puts them second to Lexus and miles ahead of BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, and Cadillac.

  • avatar

    I think the fears about added complexity of hybrid components are overblown. Ever notice how many hybrid taxis there are these days? I doubt taxi companies would put so much love behind vehicles that were breaking down all the time.

    And any added complexity in the drive system is partially offset by the increased brake life provided by regenerative braking. It seems that with hybrids and electric cars, brakes are pretty much good for the life of the vehicle. I realize this is not a huge expense but it’s a certain one in cars without motors and batteries.

  • avatar

    2018 Audi A8, now offering the same up-to-the-minute BAS technology as the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line!

    2017 Audi A3 eTron, now offering half the EV mileage of the 2011 Chevy Volt!

    If this sort of thing represents Audi’s response to green concerns, I’d rank it somewhere between a C-minus engineering effort and an upraised middle finger.

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