Audi Is Working On Intelligent Hybrids
|   Saturday, September 22, 2012
The struggle to keep fuel consumption to a minimum is intensifying all over the auto industry. This time Audi is exploring new territories on how that objective can be achieved. Then it hit them: why not use a hybrid which can keep running via inertia?

Well, that is a simple and rough way to see things, but that is partially correct. According to Britain's Autocar, Audi has plans for a new form of coasting hybrid. It uses a high-power starter motor allowing the car's engine to go on and off while on the road on a regular basis.


In a way, this idea, iHEV, is similar to the start-stop system we have come to know and love, only that this works while the car is actually moving, not just when the lights are red. This approach gives more credit to inertia and gravity, allowing them to propel a car without fuel being used.
The Intelligent Hybrid Vehicle concept gets inspiration from the A7, and uses an uncommon 48V electrical system, powered by a 48V lithium-ion battery found in the boot, to start an electric belt-drive starter motor. Thanks to it, an idle engine is quickly and effortlessly kicked back into action.

This iHEV will not work alone. It is intended for it to closely collaborate with Audi's Predictive Efficiency Assistant. The PEA system is also in development, or rather "pre-development." It will use data from the nav system, as well as info gathered from road signs in order to anticipate what is ahead of the car, and tell the driver to take the best course of action to keep fuel consumption to a minimum.

For example, based on the car's speed, road gradient and resistance, Audi's system will be able to calculate the point when the driver should lift his foot off the accelerator, thus making the engine stop and the car will arrive at the next speed restriction area at the correct speed. All that information, and more, has already been calculated by Audi in the wind tunnel, not just for normal car, but when the roof is down or when a trailer is towed too.
Furthermore, the PEA system could be used in conjunction with Active Cruise Control, so that savings will be even greater. This will be especially true on the highway, when then engine could be idled for more than a kilometer, due to the iHEV.

The official release states that Audi's iHEV A7 has traveled 38 miles of "winding country lanes" and 28 percent of the time, the engine was idle while the coasting function was on, but the PEA on, that happened 43 percent of the time. Fuel consumption was down by 10 percent and the journey time went up by 2 minutes, or 3 percent.

So far, testes are promising, but is this whole assembly really cheaper than a traditional hybrid drivetrain? We don't know right now, but these are only the starting steps, and technology has a way of overtaking all obstacles when enough money in poured in it.
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