There seems to be a growing trend in the automotive industry to make even standard internal combustion engine cars (ICE) mild hybrids. The reason for this is to increase efficiency, economy and luxury without having a big heavy battery or the extra cost of a hybrid. The upcoming next-generation Audi A8 will be such a mild hybrid, in every variant and trim level and will be so as-standard. If you’re wondering what a mild hybrid system is, you’ve come to the right place.
In a nutshell, a mild hybrid system allows an electric motor to apply power to the engines crankshaft. Why is this helpful? Well, many automakers use such a system to apply additional low-down torque to turbocharged engines that suffer from turbo-lag. So it helps make the car a bit punchier. When the engine is warm, it can even act as the starter motor. So during stop/start situations in traffic, this system can start the engine more seamlessly, smoothly and more quickly.
To get more technical, the electric motor that apply power to the engine’s crank is called a Belt Alternator Starter (BAS). Essentially, it’s an electric motor that replaces the standard alternator and is powered by a 48-volt electrical subsystem, which is now the primary electrical system for the car. This BAS is connected to the crankshaft via serpentine belt, just like a traditional alternator. However, with the engine off, it can actually apply power and turn the serpentine belt, in turn turning the crankshaft and starting the engine. It can also add power to the crankshaft in the same manner, providing the engine with additional torque.
But Audi has taken it just a bit further than all that for the new A8. In all Audi A8 models, the BAS can also act as a sort of coasting motor. So if the car is traveling between certain speeds (55 to 160 km/h ((34.2 to 99.4 mph) on the highway and is just coasting with the driver’s foot off the throttle, the engine can shut down while the BAS powers the car to save fuel. As soon as the driver reapplies throttle, the BAS kicks the engine back on seamlessly.
For most cars with start/stop systems, which most cars have nowadays, the start can be a bit rough. So if you’re stuck in traffic and you’re car’s engine keeps shutting down at a stop, it can become tiresome when it keeps restarting in a rough manner. The BAS restarts the engine far smoother than traditional means, making it far more seamless and enjoyable. Also, stop-and-go traffic can also catch the traditional system off-guard sometimes. So it’s never all that accurate. However, Audi’s new system will use intelligent connectivity, mapping and even the front camera and sensor to insure that it’s always restarting the car properly and on time. It knows when the car is in traffic and can anticipate when it’s going to need to restart. It can also use the front camera to see when the car in front is moving and will restart the engine, even if the driver’s foot is still on the brake.
It’s a very impressive new system that adds benefits across the board. Not only does it increase efficiency, but it adds power and luxury. It’s a step forward in the future of automotive tech and helps in all manner of driving. It’s not a traditional hybrid system that needs to be recharged. You just drive it like any other car.
Audi has already claimed that the new Audi A8 will be the most highly advanced autonomous car on the road when it launches next year. Audi is claiming Level 3 autonomy, which has yet to be seen from any automaker on the public road yet. Now, it will also have the most advanced mild hybrid system on the market. So the folks in Ingolstadt weren’t kidding when they said the upcoming Audi A8 will be the most technologically-advanced car in the segment.