Audi is planning to bag its second trophy at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Audi has already proven that its diesel engine technology can indeed break new ground at the 2006 Le Mans. But this year, the German-based car maker will be deploying two of its R18 e-tron quattro cars, using hybrid drive systems. Audi’s hybrid diesel-electric drive systems uses a technology called e-tron. Branded by Audi, it uses an electric motor on the front axle and a V-6 turbo-diesel engine at the rear. Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro is similar to the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems or KERS used in F1 racing.
Essentially, the e-tron quattro will capture braking energy in a flywheel and then it will convert the energy from the spinning flywheel into electricity in order to drive the front axle. The success of Audi’s diesel-hybrid cars rests on the e-tron technology. But according to Wayne Cunningham of CNET, two features of e-tron quattro could prove to be advantageous for Audi. First is its inherent all-wheel-drive nature which could give an edge, particularly when cutting corners. Second is its diesel engine and brake energy recovery systems that will allow the cars to have fewer pit stops. Audi could win again, but given that its new technology will keep up with the 24-hour endurance race.