Saturday, April 11, 2015


One of the truisms of customer technology is that it usually starts out in the automated or Army sectors, and stays there until it’s and stays there until it’s small and cheap enough for normal people to buy. Or, at least, until the market demands that it be made small or cheap enough to buy. That’s been accurate of centralized agitation engines, computers, GPS and accomplished drive systems drive systems like those acclimated in one of the oldest forms of automatic on Earth. Diesel-electric amalgam systems accept been accepted performers in locomotives for about a aeon now. Apart from the actuality that diesels are added able than gas engines to activate with, they accomplish abundant bigger architect engines. Gas engines are usually a lot of able at or abreast wide-open throttle. Diesels are just the opposite, arresting ammunition a lot of calmly while idling. Locomotive engineers ample out a continued time ago that coupling a agent architect to an electric powertrain was the cheapest way to bake hydrocarbons; and castigation absolutely has been cat-and-mouse on this for years. Finally, predictably, it was Audi (my admired above car company) that brought to bazaar a "solution" acutely accessible even in Ferdinand Porsche’s time. Or, if not then, at atomic if Audi itself acclimated a diesel-electric car to win LeMans several times. 

Audi debuted the e-tron Q7 crossover at this year’s Geneva Auto Show, and you accept to brainstorm the acknowledgment was "Well, it’s about accursed time ." Audi has continued back run abroad with the appellation of Best Agent Manufacturer in the World, and its 3.0-liter TDI V-6 has absolutely contributed to the reputation. As adapted in the Q7, the turbocharged and direct-injected agent makes 258 application and 443 foot-pounds of torque. For perspective, those numbers are hardly bigger than Ford’s aboriginal 7.3-liter Powerstroke agent V-8.

Audi’s accomplished engine couples to a adequately different alongside amalgam system. Actually, it’s array of parallel. It’s aswell a alternation hybrid, and a balmy hybrid.The first of the two electric motors is a disc-shaped unit sitting between the eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and the engine. The Tiptronic already has an interesting "freewheeling" function that allows the vehicle to coast without resistance when called for. What makes it interesting is that the freewheeling function ties into the adaptive cruise control, which itself ties into the GPS nav system. This allows the Q7’s system to react to the roads it’s on and the traffic around it by changing the way it coasts or brakes. Audi says this integrated system, in itself, is worth a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy.

(Saab geeks will note that this isn’t the first time a manufacturer has incorporated a freewheeling mechanism in the drivetrain. Fortunately, though, Audi isn’t planning on forcing drivers to choose between fried brakes and a fried engine.)

The first electric motor can drive the transmission and wheels via a clutch, it can be driven by the TDI engine and act as a generator, or it can help the engine out as an intermediary by supplying extra power. The freewheeling mechanism allows the electric motor to do all of the "engine" braking, regenerating and returning power to the lithium-ion battery pack in the process.

The second electric motor is adjacent to the rear axle. With an electric motor both before and after the transmission, this is an incredibly versatile system. All things considered, it’s best to avoid sending power through a transmission; even one designed as efficiently as the Tiptronic sucks up power that should go to either acceleration or brake regen. The rear-axle motor also bypasses the standard Quattro AWD system, further reducing losses. Direct-driving the rear wheels in this way should make for a significant 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency while running at low speed in electric-only mode.Speaking of which, the Q7’s lithium array backpack should be acceptable for a abounding 35 afar of electric-only range. That’s an important figure; the Q7 is a constituent hybrid, and a lot of peoples’ two-way circadian commutes are amid 25 and 35 miles. The U.S. is on the college end of that; Europeans boilerplate 15 to 25 afar both ways. So, with 35 afar of electric-only ambit and a plug, it’s absolutely believable that the boilerplate chump will end up active on electric ability all or a lot of of the time. Shame — seems like a decay of a altogether acceptable TDI. If you can accumulate your bottom out of it.

Not that you will — with a accumulated 375 application catapulting you to 60 in just beneath 6 abnormal and to a top acceleration of 140 mph, allowance are acceptable you’ll end up spending as abundant time arduous WRX’s as your own ammunition abridgement records. However, already you get annoyed of that, you should see a beauteous 166 mpg and 50 g/km of carbon emissions.

Granted, that "166 mpg" is an activity adequation bold that the Q7 spends some time acquainted in, and that you’re not consistently attic the thing. But bold you’re a accustomed person, active in a accustomed way on a accustomed commute, the Q7 represents a beauteous admixture of technology, abridgement and eye-watering performance.

Cynics will point out that no amalgam anytime delivers the promised ammunition economy; they’ll say the Q7 is just a gimmick to annals a lower carbon tax rating, and get about bottleneck accuse like those in London. Fair enough. That’s true. It apparently would be accessible to get 50 mpg or beneath in the Q7 if you abusage the thing.

However, this crossover is a accomplished apparatus for ammunition economy, fun and acumen in according measure. It won’t be bargain — estimates appropriate now run abutting to a hundred admirable American. It will apparently yield a continued time for the e-tron to account its $35,000 exceptional over the accepted top-of-the-line Q7 crossover. Apparently a bit beneath time if you reside in Europe, area taxes, allowance and bottleneck accuse could add bags of euros a year to the active costs against a accepted Q7. Even so, realistically, don’t apprehend the e-tron amalgam arrangement to activate to pay itself off until your youngest adolescent graduates top school.

But hey, new technology is expensive...even if it’s not absolutely "new." And attending at it this way: you could absorb a decade sending $50K to the government and Saudi Arabia, or you could accord that aforementioned $50K to advance added hundred-year-old alternation technology for use in automobiles.

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