It is a machine that will give Audi the winning title in Formula E, but also technology that can sit in your future company car.
When Audi announced in the autumn of 2016 that after 18 successful years, they had stopped investing in sports car racing, many were appalled. The German brand that has been associated with innovative technology left the long-distance running scene.
Formula E attracts more and more people
But instead of Le Mans, Audi shifted its focus to electric motorsport. And Audi is not alone in making the same journey. Nowadays, Formula E has no less than nine different manufacturers involved and as many as ten different driveline suppliers, divided into twelve different stables.
This means that Formula E is increasingly approaching Formula 1, the king of motorsport, when it comes to being at the forefront of technology.
– The pace at which everything changes is faster than anyone could have imagined. In Formula E, we can demonstrate and develop the latest technology, but also send a message to the outside world that electrified is the future, says Allen McNish in connection with Audi presenting its new racing car.
Here is Audi Sport’s new driveline
The race car is technically interesting in itself, but during the seminar Audi also showed its new driveline – which is great news. The new engine generator unit MGU05 is Audi’s first proprietary driveline, previously the manufacturer has relied on a machine developed together with Schaeffler.
In terms of performance, there is no difference from before, but it is about a maximum power of 250 kW. But Audi Sport, the manufacturer’s division for motorsport and performance models, put several hours of development into how to package and deliver the new engine generator.
A big difference from previous units is the weight. The whole rasket, with the electric machine itself, inverter, AC / DC converter and cooling, weighs less than 35 kilos.
Efficiency of over 95 percent
The new engine generator means that you can improve other details in the car. The driveline must also have an efficiency of more than 95 percent under all relevant driving conditions.
The latter is particularly interesting as the efficiency has proven to be one of the most decisive factors in Formula E. Not least when Audi driver Lucas di Grassi just a few meters before the finish line managed to pinch the win in Mexico City Eprix last year – when the competitor had run out of energy.
But how is the connection between the racing world and the technology that then comes out in reality outside the racing tracks? Historically, motorsport has been a way to test the latest technology, where not least Audi’s success in rally led to quattro four-wheel drive for production cars.
“Electrification is the future”
But does that link remain the same as in the combustion era? Yes, that’s what Allan McNish says. Because when they chose to go into electric car racing, it was to acquire skills that could then be used in the electrified models of the future.
– Electrification is the future and motorsport is at the forefront. When we entered Formula E, it was like a precursor to what became the E-throne. We are constantly developing the next generation of technology and “brake by wire” (electronic braking system) is an example of how technology from the racetrack gets into street cars, says Allan McNish.
Race driver Lucas di Grassi says that there is cooperation between the competition division and the engineers who develop Audi’s standard cars. But for obvious reasons, the race cars are somewhat further ahead in the development.
– We are three to five years ahead of the cycle before this type of technology can become commercially viable at a reasonable price. And then the technology must also have matured in terms of durability and reliability in a wider spectrum when it comes to temperature and areas of use in everyday life. But basically, what we see in efficiency, range, weight loss and cooling will all be transferred to commercial vehicles, he tells Ny Teknik.
A real leap in technology awaits
What does di Grassi mean by that, really? Well, that in the not too distant future we may see the racer driveline in one of the manufacturer’s electric cars. Even though Audi’s current electric cars are a step forward in development, there is still more to be gained, says the race driver.
-Yes, there are lots of improvements to be made. Imagine taking the racing configuration of an MGU (engine generator unit), we are talking the inverter, the AC / DC converter, the MGU itself and all cooling weighs less than 35 kg. Imagine putting four of these in a sports car in the future. Then you get 1,600 horsepower in a system that weighs less than 140 kilos. It is completely inconceivable what effect the technology we use in Formula E can give, says Lucas di Grassi.
If you go by what is said at Audi Sport, we get a real technological leap within a few years when it comes to electric powertrains. As mentioned earlier in the text, many manufacturers are now investing in electric powertrains in Formula E.
For the 2020-2021 season, in addition to Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes and Porsche also have new proprietary drivelines.
Addition: A few days after Audi had launched its new engine generator and racing car for the 2021/2022 season, the manufacturer surprises again. This by saying that after 2022 it will withdraw completely from Formula E. Instead, Audi will invest in the Dakar Rally, and electrification there.
The fact that Audi is withdrawing from Formula E is perhaps not surprising given that the group’s sibling Porsche is also investing in the series, and is developing its own driveline.
However, Audis says it will offer its powertrain to other teams.
Facts Audi MGU05
Power 250 kW / 340 horsepower
Weight: 35 kg
Performance (in the race car e-tron FE07)
Acceleration 0-100 km / h: 2.8 seconds
Maximum speed: 240 km / h