Automakers have been talking about transitioning to more robust electrical systems for well over a decade to better meet the increasing power demands made by today's state-of-the-art vehicles. Beyond an ever-broadening array of infotainment/telematics packages, advances like full active suspensions and electric compressors that boost engine performance of conventional exhaust-driven turbochargers are moving closer to reality. Audi becomes the first to announce plans to supplement existing 12-volt architecture in its vehicles with 48-volt technology that will be introduced "shortly."
In commenting on the implementation, Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi noted: "We are using the full bandwidth of electrification in our drive principles strategy. Running part of the vehicle electrical system at 48 volts plays a central role in this by enabling us to make more energy available. That paves the way for new technologies with which we can make our cars more sporty, more efficient and more convenient to use."
Along with offering more power on demand, Audi's 48V solution allows for enhanced storage capacity using compact lithium-ion batteries as well as smaller, lighter cable cross sections and wiring harnesses. It recently demonstrated a version of this 48V technology in the 444-horsepower RS 5 TDI Concept that was fitted with one of the firm's trick electric turbo compressors. Also able to provide consistent energy supply during engine-off and restart phases, the 48V Li-ion battery works with a new super-efficient alternator that recovers as much as 10kW of power -- a feat that qualifies the car as a mild hybrid. Finally, the technology opens the door to more efficiently starting, controlling and stopping the combustion process which can increase overall mpg while lowering CO2 emissions. No word yet on which Audi will be the first to get this 48V upgrade. Speculation centers on the 2016 Audi SQ7 performance SUV, which has been rumored to be the first production model fitted with an electric turbo compressor.
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