For much of the last ten years or so, Audi turbodiesel race cars have dominated the World Endurance Championships at the Le Mans. One technology new to the circuit, hybrid technology, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System [KERS], wasn’t necessarily designed for fuel economy.
While adding KERS to a 3.7ℓ turbodiesel race car does help to recover lost energy during braking and turns, where it really shines is when coming out of the turns, when the extra torque provided by the electric motor could mean milliseconds off the clock.
Race-inspired technology has always had a way of trickling down to production vehicles, and it seems that the latest in Audi KERS racing technology could finally find its way into a long-rumored hypercar slotted above the R8. The Audi R20, just a temporary project name, looks to be a diesel-electric hybrid very similar to the R18 e-tron quattro on which it is based, inlcluding active aerodynamics, LED lighting, and a narrow cockpit.
The timing is right, as other high-end automakers, including Ferrari, Porsche, and others, are toying with electrification, even in million-dollar vehicles. Having a project name is certainly promising, but the only thing we don’t know about the Audi R20 diesel hybrid, or whatever it will finally be named, is when it will actually be produced.