July 11, 2013
Audi Tron Future Lab Experience. Click image to enlarge
Article and photos by Jonathan Yarkony, additional images courtesy Audi
Berlin, Germany – There are two ways to look at the Audi Tron Future Lab Experience: a demonstration of science fiction tech and forbidden fruit, or a preview of the products and technologies that will soon become household items. Unfortunately, there were no light bikes.
In a place where history meets the future in such a dramatic juxtaposition of old and new, one cannot ignore the optimistic point of view. Berlin is literally a city that has risen from the ashes of war and tragedy and then a subsequent (and not so literal) deep freeze, but it is now a dynamic, bustling city full of hope and excitement with prominent reminders of its tragic history and tributes to those affected by the Holocaust, World War 2 and the Cold War.
Audi’s history isn’t quite so troubled, on the other hand, but it is trying to preserve its vaunted driving experience and marry it to future technologies that will help reduce our carbon footprint and move us to a world of emissions-free personal transportation. The Audi Tron Experience guided us through workshops and demonstrations of progressively more relevant and immediate applications of several technologies: the R18 e-tron Quattro racecar, R8 e-tron supercar, A3 g-tron dual fuel vehicle, A1 e-tron electric vehicle, and A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid.
Audi R18 e-tron Quattro
This is a race car. You will never get to drive this car. We did not get to drive this car. We weren’t even allowed to sit in it. Frankly, I was afraid to touch it.
Audi R-18 e-tron quattro. Click image to enlarge
The R18 e-tron quattro is Audi’s entry into the annual 24 hours of Le Mans (which it won again this year) and Le Mans Series. While you won’t soon convince me that the prestige and glory of the racing itself isn’t the primary motivation for Audi’s participation, it is also an advanced field/torture-testing experiment for durability and efficiency.
Of all the stats Audi threw at us regarding the R18′s racing history (wins, 1-2 finishes, etc.), none were more impressive than its failure rate: 0. Of all the cars entered in all the races the R18 has ever entered, none have failed to finish the race. Considering some of these races are 24 hours long, pushing cars beyond limits we could ever achieve at engine speeds we can only imagine, this just blows my mind.
But to get back to the technology in play here, the R18 features a 3.7L V6 turbodiesel with a flywheel kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) powering an electric motor that provides additional power at speeds over 120 km/h.