Monday, November 19, 2012

A word from Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Development at Audi Sport

Audi Press Release

Congratulations on winning the Professional MotorSport World Expo Award. What are the major strides Audi has made in engine design after eleven Le Mans victories?

On its victory in June, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro consumed 30 percent less fuel than our sports cars did when the project was launched. And it did so although the lap times have significantly improved since then despite numerous limitations. This is a step ahead that customers directly benefit from. Particularly in engine design a large number of technologies have been making their way into production vehicles.

The challenges, though, will not diminish in the very near future.

We’re facing a dramatic change from 2014 on. The usable energy, in other words the consumption expressed in grams per kilowatt hour of output, will become the basis of assessment. Simply put: The specific consumption is the yardstick for the most efficient and thus most successful powertrain.

But hasn’t the objective always been to achieve a highly efficient powertrain?

For decades, the main focus in motorsport was placed on the delivery of sheer power output, which was rarely put in relation to fuel economy. Now it’s about specific consumption, and a large number of new solutions are being conceived for this. From 2014 on, the regulations for factory-fielded sports prototypes such as the Audi R18 will prescribe at least one system for energy recovery. In addition, a second system will be permitted. Basically, there is a large number of physical possibilities available for this purpose but the solutions that also have the highest relevance for production vehicles will be those to prevail.

In what other areas are you seeing potential?

We want to further the development of second-generation bio fuels. This is about the intelligent utilization of renewable raw materials that do not compete with foodstuffs.

In terms of technology, a Le Mans sports car is far away from a production vehicle. Does it hold a key to tomorrow’s technology anyway?

Motorsport helps provide answers to four very concrete current questions. What will the fuels of the future look like? How can you design a powertrain that is as efficient as possible? How can reduced consumption be achieved without sacrifice (comfort, safety and driving pleasure on the production side of the house and good lap times in racing)? How can new technologies be developed under high competitive and time pressures?