As part of an ongoing quest to create greater operating efficiency in its vehicles, Audi AG has revealed a new electromechanical rotary shock absorber system that can use irregularities in road surfaces to convert kinetic energy into electric charge on the fly. Currently in prototype form and intended work with upcoming 48-volt electrical systems, these new dampers replace conventional vertically mounted shocks with a horizontally oriented lever arm in the wheel carrier that transfers the compression/rebound actions of a vehicle in motion to an integrated motor/generator through a system of gears.

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Audi testing has shown that this system can increase fuel economy by about 0.3 mile per gallon and reduce CO2 emissions but also are capable of generating 100-150 watts of energy. This extra juice can then be fed into a lithium-ion storage battery and subsequently passed along to other systems as well as to the basic 12-volt battery. 

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Beyond increasing efficiency, Audi also notes these energy capturing shocks can be tuned to ensure an excellent balance of comfort and control while their horizontal configuration allows for increased cargo space. While still fairly early in development – the new technology may be seen as early as next year – the automaker calls the work to date “promising” and the potential for future production use is “plausible.”

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