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Endurance: Audi launches new Audi R18 e-tron Quattro Le Mans car (+photos)

German car manufacturer Audi officially launched Wednesday its new World Endurance Championship and Le Mans challenger, an all-new Audi R18 e-tron Quattro.

In its press release, Audi says although the name remains unchanged the new R18 been redeveloped from scratch. Due to the new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect in 2014, Audi Sport factually redeveloped every single component of the car.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014 WEC
Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014. (Photo: Audi Motosport)

The key details of the new R18 are:
• A further developed V6 TDI mid-engine powers the rear wheels
• e-tron quattro hybrid system at the front axle (ERS-K – Energy Recovery System Kinetic, a system to store kinetic energy)
• Optimized flywheel energy storage system
• Hybrid system with an electric turbocharger in the internal combustion engine (ERS-H – Energy Recovery System Heat, a system that stores energy converted from heat)

Audi worked hard on its V6 TDI unit as it must comply with the energy specifications of the regulations. The new R18 has to do with up to 30 percent less fuel than its immediate predecessor.

In addition to the internal combustion engine, the powertrain concept, for the first time, features the integration of two hybrid systems.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014 WEC
Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014. (Photo: Audi Motosport)

As in the past, a Motor-Generator-Unit (MGU), during braking events, recovers kinetic energy at the front axle, which flows into a flywheel energy storage system.

For the first time, the turbocharger of the internal combustion engine is linked to an electrical machine, which makes it possible to convert the thermal energy of the exhaust gas flow into electric energy – for instance when the boost pressure limit has been reached. This energy also flows into the flywheel energy storage system.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014 WEC
Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014. (Photo: Audi Motosport)

When the car accelerates, the stored energy can either flow back to the MGU at the front axle or to the innovative electric turbocharger, depending on the operating strategy.

The new car is also smaller and narrower. Instead of a diffusor, a genuine front wing with a flap is used for the first time. Use of the exhaust gas in the area of the rear diffusor, as in the case of the 2013-generation Audi R18 e-tron quattro, is now prohibited.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014 WEC
Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014. (Photo: Audi Motosport)