EXCLUSIVE: Audi plots power-generating hybrid suspension

Audi S3 Saloon nose front
25 Jun, 2014 8:15am Oliver Kew

R&D boss confirms Audi is close to harnessing energy from suspension to power its cars

Audi is in the advanced stages of developing a power-generating suspension system, Auto Express can reveal. The idea stems from the now common technology of brake energy regeneration, as Audi looks to harness wasted energy and cut fuel consumption.

At the launch of the new Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid, Audi R&D chief Dr Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed Audi has successfully developed a 'generator suspension' that will eventually be available in production models.

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Dr Hackenberg explained: 'What people don't realise is that dampers get very hot. When working hard over a bumpy road, the dampers are perhaps 100 to 125 degrees. This energy is wasted as heat into the atmosphere. So, we will replace the suspension with a generator.'

Hackenberg

Though Hackenberg was coy on specific details, it's possible Audi will incorporate a rotating generator unit into the damper, which is spun as the suspension compresses. Audi's R&D supremo said the captured electrical energy will be stored in batteries to power the car's hybrid drive system, though it's also possible the extra current could be used to juice the car's ancillary electrical systems. Such a setup would reduce resistance on the combustion engine and improve fuel mileage.

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Dr. Hackenberg also hinted how the system could be advanced for more performance-orientated cars. 'Because we can send energy back into the damper, you will have an independently variable suspension. This can [counteract] roll [of the car's body].

It's unclear when the energy suspension will make either a concept car or production debut, but Dr Hackenberg did pithily hint the technology would be great news for the UK, due to how hard the dampers have to work on Britain's pothole-scarred roads.

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Clearly simple arithmetic is not one of Dr Hackenberg strengths. This would have told him it would be, even on a bumpy road, unlikely to raise even 0.267 bhp transiently. Dampers get warm because there's little airflow circulating around them to cool them and there's usually a spring wrapped around them to hinder it further. Let's face it, if there was any appreciable energy to dissipate, they'd at least have cooling fins on them. Could AE please put an end to this slurry of VW marketing drivel by being a bit more selective about the press releases you print?

And how much is this going to cost if need to replace my shocks?!

Get them on Ebay for £4.50 each.

Obviously your engineering skills and research & testing on this subject should be something the engineers @ Audi and their R & D department should be seeking, perhaps you will replace Dr. Hackenberg...

AEX 1334
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