Audi just unveiled its new R18 E-Tron Quattro race car, which is the world’s first world’s Le Mans (LMP1) car to combine an efficient TDI diesel engine with a hybrid system. The R18 E-Tron Quattro is powered by a 510-hp 3.7L V6 TDI diesel engine that sends its power to the rear wheels, but the race car also uses kinetic energy to power the front wheels. During braking, kinetic energy is captured on the front axle, that is then fed into a flywheel accumulator, before being retrieved under acceleration again at speeds above 75 mph.

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According to Audi, the E-Tron Quattro project started in February 2010 and only 18 months passed from the initial conceptual ideas to the first test. “This is a relatively short cycle for a technology that has never been tested in motorsports and which still doesn’t even exist in production,” stresses Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. “The challenge is correspondingly big.”

Audi Sport developed the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro at the same time as the non-hybrid Audi R18 ultra.

“The TDI engine invented by Audi is still the most efficient drive in the world,” says Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “We are convinced that the TDI has even more potential. This is why Audi not only supports the hybrid in motorsports as it does in production, but in parallel also the further development of the conventional drive.”

The R18 E-Tron Quattro will make its race debut on May 5 in the 6-hour race at Spa Francorchamps, further preparing it for the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16/17.

+ Audi