The production and sales of Audi automobiles have been increasing for many years now. In 2013, the Company delivered more than 1.57 million units. With success, however, comes greater responsibility – to the customers, to the environment and in our management of energy resources. Audi is meeting this challenge by further reducing fuel consumption and developing new technologies in the areas of drive systems and fuels. The primary objective is to drastically reduce CO2 emissions.
Efficiency technologies, life cycle assessment and safety
According to a study by the Center of Automotive Management, Audi is already the premium manufacturer with the lowest fleet emissions in Germany. Over 100 engine and transmission combinations already emit on average 140 grams (225.31 g/mile) or less of CO2. The engineers are working hard to reduce fuel consumption even further.
The TDI and TFSI engines – both groundbreaking Audi developments – will continue to be important pillars of mobility for years to come. The technologies from the modular efficiency platform, such as cylinder management (COD, cylinder on demand), already combine power with high efficiency. Fuel consumption has decreased by as much as 30 percent compared with the direct predecessors. Future developments are expected to yield an additional savings potential of around 20 percent with the TDI and TFSI engines.
Another area of innovative expertise at Audi, lightweight construction, is also a major factor for greater efficiency. Aluminum is used in many model lines to significantly reduce the weight of the body. The next step in the evolution of today’s Audi Space Frame (ASF) with its aluminum framework is a space frame combining various materials, including fiber composites such as CFRP and GFRP. Each new Audi car should weigh less than the respective previous model.
The efficiency technologies together with lightweight construction have a very positive effect on the life cycle assessment (LCA) that Audi prepares for all new models. In the new A3 1.4 TFSI, for example – which is up to 90 kg (198.42 lb) lighter than the previous model, depending on the engine version – greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by up to nine percent. The LCA assesses a car’s total environmental impact over its entire life cycle. It begins with the extraction of the raw materials and ends with recycling. Audi can verify the recyclability of 95 percent of the vehicle weight. For the years ahead, the predevelopment engineers at Audi are working on radically new materials made from renewable resources or biopolymers.
Audi takes safety very seriously, and this applies to both passive and active safety. In collaboration with Regensburg University Hospital, the Audi Accident Research Unit (AARU) analyzes traffic accidents to glean practical insights. The Company recently endowed a professorship for vehicle safety and signals processing at the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences.
Powerful assistance systems, from adaptive cruise control with stop & go function to Audi pre sense, keep today’s Audi drivers relaxed and in control. The next step to follow in a few years will be systems for piloted driving. Like the autopilot in an airplane, these systems can take over the driving for a limited period of time – whenever the driver wants.
A third pillar of sustainable future mobility is electrification of the powertrain. Three hybrid models – the A6 hybrid, the A8 hybrid and the Q5 quattro hybrid – are already on the road. The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron will follow in 2014. With a system output of 150 kW (204 hp) and 350 Nm (258.15 lb-ft) of system torque, its 1.4 TFSI engine and electric motor provide for sporty performance. Average fuel consumption according to the ECE standards is just 1.5 liters of fuel per 100 km (156.81 US mpg), and the electric range is 50 km (31.07 miles).
The electrified models bearing the e-tron name offer a substantial electric range and can be plugged in to charge. Like all models from Audi, their character is driven by fascination and emotion. Over the mid-term, e-tron technology will grow to become one of the supporting pillars of the Company.
Audi is also thinking on a grand scale and taking concrete action when it comes to the development of new energy sources. The Company was the world’s first automaker to enter into the development and production of renewable fuels that do not require biomass.
Audi has established a portfolio of sustainable sources of energy as part of the Audi e-gas project. The plant in Werlte near Emsland has come on stream in 2013. It starts with green electricity, water and the binding of CO2. The end products of the Audi e-gas plant are hydrogen (Audi e-hydrogen) and the synthetic Audi e-gas, which is virtually identical to natural gas. It can be used to power cars like the new A3 Sportback g-tron.
In the medium term, Audi is developing second-generation biofuels. Because they are no longer based on biomass, they do not compete with food production. They also enable much higher yields than conventional biofuels. At present, the Company is working with a partner from the USA to produce synthetic ethanol (Audi e-ethanol) and synthetic diesel (Audi e-diesel), for example.