Audi wins Le Mans and shows electric e-tron Spyder

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Audi has won the Le Mans 24 Hour Race for the tenth time, as well as showcasing its future technology in the form of the diesel-electric e-tron Spyder concept.

Audi lost two of its three ultra-lightweight new Audi R18 TDI cars early on in the race due to accidents, but car number 2 achieved Audi’s tenth Le Mans victory in 13 years.

In 2001 Audi combined turbocharging with direct injection technology; TFSI today plays a major part in downsizing production engines.

In 2006 Audi achieved the first Le Mans success with a diesel-powered vehicle.

In last year’s one-two-three result for Audi, when the brand beat the distance record that had been in existence for 39 years, turbochargers with variable turbine geometry (VTG) were used.

The Audi R18 TDI that won this year’s race has a 3.7-litre V6 TDI engine with a mono-VTG turbocharger. It is constructed from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).

Audi also showcased its e-tron Spyder at the event, which combines a diesel engine with two electric motors. It combines a top speed of 155 mph with 128.4 mpg and 59 g/km CO2.

The two-seat open top sports car study achieves this thanks to a mid-mounted bi-turbo TDI engine mated to electric power. The secret to the low emissions is the plug-in hybrid capability, which results in a zero emission electric range of 31 miles and at speeds of up to 37 mph.

The combination of a new 300 PS, bi-turbo version of the latest six-cylinder 3.0-litre TDI engine (650Nm torque) with two electric motors developing 64kW (352 Nm) creates an incredible total torque figure of 1,002 Nm. Other vital statistics include a 0-62 mph time of 4.4 seconds and a range of 621 miles.

The 3.0 TDI engine drives the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the front wheels are driven by the electric motors. Roughly 75 percent of the torque goes to the rear and 25 percent to the front.

There is central control of the entire drive system in combination with the ESP, and the e-tron Spyder features ‘torque vectoring’ – the distribution of torque between the left and right wheels of the two axles – for improved traction and handling. This means that the e-tron Spyder has all of the advantages of four-wheel drive quattro technology.

Audi says that the e-tron Spyder hints at the design language of future Audi sports cars.