Ever since Audi won the World Rally Championship with quattro, the brand’s motorsport program has primarily been serving the purpose of testing production-relevant technology in order to develop increasingly fuel-efficient and safe automobiles.
Example 1: Audi’s gasoline engines are eminently fuel-efficient, not least due to FSI direct injection. This idea debuted in racing. In 2001, the Audi R8 LMP race car won the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time using an FSI engine. Three more victories followed in 2002, 2004 and 2005. The race drivers benefited from the engine’s more sensitive response and lower consumption. In normal road traffic, the technology helps reduce CO2 emissions in millions of vehicles.
Example 2: Since 2012, Audi has been competing at Le Mans with hybrid drive, clinching three consecutive wins. The energy recuperation system significantly increases the efficiency of the Audi R18. In spite of decreasing amounts of fuel per lap, the race cars have been running faster and faster. Between 2011 and 2015, the consumption of the V6 TDI engine in the Audi R18 dropped by 32 percent, while lap times improved by 3.8 percent. In 2014, the first e-tron production model, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* debuted.
Example 3: Light-weight design. Thanks to advanced materials and innovative engineering design, a modern LMP1 race car now only weighs 875 kilograms although, since 2012, a complex hybrid drive system has been mandatory. At the same time, the current generation of the sports prototypes is safer than ever before. This applies to both check loads and crash tests, and thanks to its safeguards against cockpit intrusion and wheels flying off. In production models, Audi has been using an uncompromising approach to lightweight design as well. For instance, the new Audi A4* weighs up to 120 kilograms less than its predecessor.
Example 4: Active safety benefits from the latest lighting technologies. The Audi Matrix-LED headlights have been improving vision of the Audi drivers since 2012 and since 2014, Audi Laser Light has been illuminating the track even more effectively. The brand’s customers have since been profiting from this as well, as both technologies are also available for production models today.