There’s a bit of an automotive renaissance occurring just below the radar. While pure electrics and plug-in hybrids garner endless headlines, several luxuryÂ brands are sneaking more mild hybrid arrangements under their vehicles’ hoods via a 48-volt electrical system.
Audi is a firm believer in the technology and is making moves to implement the system in numerous vehicles in its lineup, starting with the fourth-generation A8 arriving later this year. Combining regenerative braking with a small lithium battery and belt-driven alternator, the system harnessesÂ wasted energy and is a more affordable way to tap into the benefits of hybridization. So affordable, automakers are using the KERS-like system on models as standard equipment, not a optional extra.
In this regard, Audi’s A8 is no different.Â The nextÂ generations of the A6 and A7 will also use the technology.
Alexander Kruse, Audi’s project head for the 48-volt enhanced ICEs, toldÂ Automotive NewsÂ the brand wants to bake the system into larger models “very quickly.” The A7 is due to debut at the Frankfurt auto show this September and the A6 launches sometime in 2018. While the pair won’t receive setups quite as trick as the flagship sedan, the mechanical theories are identical.
Audi claimsÂ the system equatesÂ to an additional 12 kilowatts (16 horsepower) and 60 Newton meters (44 lb-ft) of torque on tested V6s, reducing fuel consumption by 0.7 liters per 100 kmÂ â€” enough to notice at the pump, if you’re paying attention. While the real draw for consumers is the added torque, the system does some of its best workÂ when it isn’t making any.
The A8 can coast for up to 45 seconds with the engine turned off at speeds between 19 mph to 99 mph but, once the driver touches the gas, the alternator/starter combo brings the engine back up to speed.[Image: Audi]