Audi’s future laboratory

Last month, we posted a blog entry about the current possibilities of solar panels to power vehicle engines as a way of green energy. Having clarified its premature state and it being far away from market readiness, we now wondered how car brands deal with the topic of future mobility and how they prepare for future driving trends. Audi is currently holding an exhibition named “Audi future lab: mobility” in its home base in Ingolstadt. In the Audi Museum, amongst other, the brand shows prototypes of its future models. The overarching theme of “future mobility” is spliced up into the three key components of “future engines, future energies, and urban future”. The exhibition opened several weeks ago and will close on 17/03/13

Tomorrow’s technology in the Audi museum

Audi allows for a glimpse of what its future engines will look like as one of the main focus points: along with the brand’s pillars of TDI and TFSI technology, it presents models combining electrically powered engines with lightweight construction technology under the term “e-tron”. Visitors can take a look at the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the first Le Mans racing car to feature a hybrid engine. “This is a technology that has never been tested in motorsport and which still doesn’t exist in production in this form”, says Dr Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi.[1] Apart from electricity, Audi also invests in other types of fuels. In the exhibition, car models running on gas or CO2-neutral biofuels are put on display such as the Audi A3 TCNG. The technology behind the cars is illustrated by lively animations, entertaining videos, and thorough descriptions in the overall manageable exhibition.

Other parts of the Audi museum are devoted to “urban future” – Audi’s interpretation of the future of mobility in urban environments. The embodiment of Audi’s efforts to picture what mobility could be like in cities is its concept car called the Audi Urban Concept Spyder.[2] The Spyder looks like a German designer’s take on a soapbox derby car. However, this is exactly how Audi visualises future urban mobility: small, agile, and electric. The doors swing up diagonally and Audi’s four rings throne on top of the ultra-light carbon chassis’ nose. The Spyder is one of the highlights at the “Audi future lab: mobility” exhibition.

Audi sends a signal

The Audi museum exhibition is a signal of Audi’s ambitions to actively shape tomorrow’s technology. This is the main message the exhibition tries to convey. However, doubts arise as to whether Audi will continue its investments: due to the stalemate of the battery industry, Audi officials claim, electric cars will not become profitable for a long time. Rather than electric, the company seeks to go plug-in hybrid only, which allows to achieve short-term goals.[3] The project R8 e-tron, for example, a car that earned the title of “fastest electric car around the famous Nürburgring”[4], will not be continued this year.

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