Technology

Audi shows how its e-tron concept car can regain energy – even when braking

The German car maker prepares to make its first foray into all-electric motoring.

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Audi has demonstrated how it is recuperating energy in its fully electric e-tron sport utility vehicle concept.

As the world slowly edges further from diesel and petrol and closer to electricity, Audi is preparing its first all-electric SUV, to rival the likes of Tesla and Jaguar.

Audi’s attempt focuses on regaining energy from existing movement and braking to provide power back to the car’s battery.

It’s not the first time energy from the brakes has been regenerated this way. Several manufacturers have tested KERS – kinetic energy recovery system – for years, while the system was introduced in Formula One back in 2009.

On a demonstration run in the Rocky Mountains, Audi showed how its own technology was able to boost power on an 18-mile descent of Pikes Peak.

The car’s power gauge had actually increased from 67% to 75% by the time it reached the end of the journey, adding about 6.8kWh of energy.

Audi e-tron concept
(Audi)

“We engineered a lot of very highly efficient systems in the car,” explained Dr Marko Hörter, who works on the development of the integrated brake control system at Audi.

“If the driver is using the brake pedal for instance, all other cars kick in the real brakes, not in this car.”

Instead of traditional brake pads, the e-tron prototype uses electric motors to slow down and regain some energy.

The brake pads are still there of course, but they are only used on about 10% of brake manoeuvres.

Audi e-tron concept
(Audi)

“It’s a very useful feature, that we’re not wasting energy, we’re trying to use as much energy to feed back into the battery again,” Mr Hörter added.

The e-tron allows drivers to switch between different modes when slowing down by using shift paddles on the steering wheel, or they can select the automatic option.

The car then calculates the ideal amount of energy to distribute between batteries and electronic motors situated at the front and rear of the car.

Audi e-tron concept
(Audi)

A range of radar sensors, camera images and navigation data is also fitted on the car to detect the traffic environment and the route, which is fed back to the driver on the virtual cockpit display.

The all-electric Audi e-tron SUV is expected to be officially revealed later this year.

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