Audi has officially introduced their updated R18 e-tron Quattro racecar for the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season. Audi has redesigned the front end for optimal airflow, added new Matrix LED and Audi Laserlight headlights and switched to a more powerful 272 horsepower electric motor in moving to the fifth-generation of their diesel-hybrid endurance racer.
While it may appear the same at a quick glance, Audi has thoroughly rethought the R18’s body structure. There are now large air inlets in the front wheel arches and redesigned sidepods, new features which contribute to a decrease in aerodynamic drag. A new tapered engine cover also helps the R18 e-tron slip through the air more easily.
The amount of energy used by the R18 e-tron’s hybrid system for one lap at Le Mans will increase in 2015 from 2 megajoules to 4. This will be enabled by a more powerful 272 horsepower (200 kW) electric motor and a more power-dense 700 kilojoule energy storage system. Just like before, the car will recover energy through braking, which will then be fed to the front wheels under acceleration.
The increase in electrical power forced Audi to scale back their 3.7-liter TDI V6 diesel engine in the R18. FIA rules stated the fuel-energy ratio has to be reduced if the vehicle engineers opt to increase the electrical output of the car, so Audi will have to use 2.5 percent less fuel for lap this year than they did in 2015. The automaker isn’t worried, as it says its diesel powerplant has been further optimized to reduce fuel consumption, anyways.
Catch the updated R18 e-tron in action at the FIA WEC’s season opener, the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 12th.