Another Audi Diesel

When I saw the headline “Audi Faces Challenging Task in Japan” I immediately thought, “Uh-oh.

When I saw the headline “Audi Faces Challenging Task in Japan” I immediately thought, “Uh-oh. More issues with the diesel engine”—because remember, Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group and as such, there is shared technology, such as, well, the diesel engines that have caused all manner of problems in Wolfsburg. . .and, arguably, Ingolstadt.

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However, that wasn’t the “challenging task” being referred to. Rather, it is for next Sunday’s World Endurance Championship race the Fuji Speedway, where Audi will be campaigning its R18 e-tron quattro.

Still, one begins to think: the R18 e-tron quattro is a hybrid vehicle that combines an electric motor. . .and a diesel engine. In this case, a four-liter, V6 TDI engine that delivers 558 hp. (Not the 2.0-liter TDI that it has under the hood of the A3.) Audi has been running a racing diesel at Le Mans, for example, since 2006, and scored eight victories.

(One interesting aspect of the R18 e-quattro is that it uses an energy recovery system that takes energy from braking and stores it in a flywheel system that sits in the cockpit along with the driver (!) and is capable of storing up to 700 kilojoules of energy. This power goes back to an electrical machine on the front axle that can produce 272-hp.

Because of this setup, the rules demand that they had to restrict the amount of fuel used by the car by 2.5% per lap.

Describing the fuel efficiency of the R18 e-tron quattro up to this year’s 24 Hour of Le Mans, a statement from Audi says, “In 2006, Audi’s TDI engine debuted at Le Mans, followed by eight victories until 2014. While lap times continually improved, fuel consumption decreased by 38 percent during this period.”

No word on emissions.