With the state of the global economy and the volatile gas prices of last summer, you’d be hard pressed to find a company who’s top goals don’t reflect one of increased fuel efficiency across their model range. As it were, Audi is one of those companies focused on their increased fuel efficiency regarding the future of their model range. Aside from already having a vast array of diesel vehicles with fuel sipping engines, Audi plans to change up how their vehicles are constructed as a means of returning better fuel economy and performance to customers.
In a recent interview, Michael Dick, head of technical development for Audi, stated that in addition to working on electric hybrid powertrains, the company will focus on reducing the overall weight of the modular longitudinal platform(MLP) as a means of improving the performance of the car in terms of fuel efficiency as well as sheer driving performance. For those that don’t know, the MLP is essentially a spaceframe of the car developed to serve a variety of vehicles, reducing Audi’s time and costs for development of specific models with a platform that can be adjusted to suit most models within their range, essentially a version of platform sharing with the chassis. Currently, the A5 and A4 are some of the cars that implement the first generation MLP.
Hit the jump to read more about Audi’s test mule S5 on the Nurburgring using weight savings technology.
To help reduce the weight of the MLP’s Audi intends to use more weight saving techniques to cut the overall curb weight of future vehicles. Dick went on to note that engineers within Audi are looking at a how the mixture of aluminum and other metals can be combined to reduce weight in future Audis. Audi investigating these methods in greater detail also will likely be determined that the modified MLP’s prove to be cost effective from a development stand point as well as cost effective to the customer to prevent large increases in sticker prices.
Audi already has a test mule prepped and running that demonstrates the new weight saving concepts. The mule? a modified S5 powered by a 230HP four cylinder engine versus the current S5’s V8. However, with the weight savings applied, the S5 loses 881 lbs and, despite being short 100 HP over the standard S5, the test mule is capable of turning out a lap time of the Nurburgring 8 seconds faster than the V8 S5. Thus making a strong case for the weight savings methods as it permits significant strides in driving dynamics coupled with smaller, more fuel efficient engines without a performance comprise felt by the end user.
You can expect to see some change in dynamics from the current S5 when Audi likely drops the V8 in favor of the supercharged 3.0L V6 powering the 2009 S4.