Audi and many other carmakers are consistently pressing forward to improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions. From late this year, the Vorsprung durch Technik brand tells us that it will redouble its efforts to boost range average fuel economy by 20 per cent by 2012 through the gradual integration of new technologies, including a new start-stop system and a new efficiency program built into the onboard computer.
The start-stop system and the onboard computer with efficiency program complement the energy recovery system, which is a standard feature of a rapidly increasing number of Audi models and feeds energy back into the vehicle’s electrical system during deceleration phases.
The start-stop system realizes its efficiency potential especially in urban traffic, significantly reducing consumption by shutting down the engine once the car has come to a stop, the gear lever is in neutral and the driver has released the clutch pedal. Operating the clutch then starts up the engine again. Audi says that their start-stop system is extremely quiet, convenient to operate and fast - the engine restarts while the driver is shifting into gear.
Audi combines the start-stop system with efficient battery technology and sophisticated energy management, to maintain functioning even at low temperatures. The system is inactive during the warm-up phase of the engine, so that the engine oil becomes warmer and the exhaust gas cleaning systems reach their operating temperature faster. The driver can also switch off the start-stop system at any time by pressing a button.
In the standardized driving cycle the start-stop system lowers fuel consumption by about 0.2 litres per 100 km, and therefore reduces CO2 emissions by around 5 g/km. The new system is set to make its debut in the Audi A3 1.4 TFSI with manual transmission and in the Audi A4 and A5 with 2.0-litre engines and manual gearshift. Numerous other models will follow late this year.
The second new addition is the on-board computer with the efficiency program, an addition to the Audi Driver Information System. All consumption-related data appears in the centre display, and recommendations for efficient driving are also included, highlighting the fact that up to 30 per cent of fuel consumption is dependent upon individual driving style. The efficiency program continuously analyzes the energy consumption in the vehicle and gives the driver up-to-date tips for saving fuel, depending on the driving situation and driving style.
The newly designed gearshift indicator signals to the driver when to shift, for optimal fuel economy: A large, colour-coded display indicates whether the right gear is engaged, or whether shifting would be practical for the sake of efficiency.
Comfort features like air conditioning and seat heating also increase fuel consumption. A specially developed display in the efficiency program identifies the systems requiring extra energy and indicates their share in fuel consumption.
The third new technology to be applied is the energy recovery system, which already uses deceleration phases to convert kinetic energy into electrical energy. When the car accelerates again, the battery directs the temporarily stored energy back into the vehicle, to relieve the alternator and thereby save fuel. The energy recovery system is already standard equipment on the Audi A3 1.4 TFSI with manual transmission, the Audi A4, A5 Coupé and A5 Cabriolet with two-litre engine and manual transmission, the A6 and the Audi Q5 and Q7.
From innovative powertrain technologies to highly efficient air conditioning, the goal is to improve the entire vehicle’s mechanical, thermal and electrical energy management capabilities. And Audi’s efficiency technologies are systematically geared to the driver’s needs.
Audi reminds us that it also employs a host of measures to minimize driving resistance and optimize aerodynamics. These benefits are made tangible for the driver by a range of innovative assistance systems, with the standard specification of many current Audi models already featuring numerous efficiency technologies such as the Audi valvelift system, high-efficiency transmission and tyres with optimized rolling resistance.
By 2012 Audi says that it plans to lower the fuel consumption of its model range by 20 per cent compared with the 2007 level, proving even more emphatically that driving pleasure and environmental consideration do not have to be mutually exclusive.