With the fully electric “Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo” concept car, Audi is now turning electric mobility into a tangible experience in a unique way. Originally developed exclusively for virtual races on PlayStation 4, Audi is making the new race car reality in conjunction with Formula E. With this past April’s race in Rome serving as a kickoff, the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo is being deployed as a race taxi (Figs. 1 and 2).
1. The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo
“E-Mobility is rapidly gaining importance,” says Peter Mertens, Member of the Board of Management, Technical Development, AUDI AG. “That is why in 2017, Audi was the first German manufacturer to enter Formula E with a factory-backed commitment. In our development laboratory motorsport, we are continuously expanding our expertise in e-mobility and gathering valuable experience also in extremely demanding conditions. With the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo race taxi, we are turning electric mobility into a tangible experience for our customers and guests as part of the Formula E races—in the middle of the world’s metropolises.”
2. Another view of the Gran Turismo.
Employees at Audi’s pre-production center developed and produced this one-of-a-kind car within the space of just 11 months based on the example of the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo from the “Gran Turismo” PlayStation game. The million-selling “Gran Turismo” game has long acquired cult status with gamers around the globe.
Audi has been working together with Sony and Polyphony Digital—the creators of “Gran Turismo”—for nearly 20 years. Audi designers created the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo for the “Vision Gran Turismo” competition that was launched on the popular game’s 15th anniversary. Numerous automobile manufacturers developed virtual race cars for the contest.
Many of these concept cars were subsequently built as full-scale models, too, and presented at trade shows. The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo, however, is the first concept car of this range to be deployed to real-world race tracks as a fully functional vehicle.
“This is what we are particularly proud of,” says Audi’s chief designer Marc Lichte. “Although the design of a virtual vehicle allows much greater freedom and the creation of concepts which are only hard to implement in reality, we did not want to put a purely fictitious concept on wheels. Our aim was a fully functional car. The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo shows that electric mobility at Audi is very emotive. This car incorporates numerous elements of our new design language, such as the inverted single frame in the vehicle’s color that will be typical for our new e-tron models.”
Audi has deliberately taken up design elements and the color of the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO—in 1989, motorsport fans became quite familiar with the vehicle in the North American IMSA-GTO racing series with drivers like Hans-Joachim Stuck, Walter Röhrl, Hurley Haywood, and Scott Goodyear. Featuring a combination of systematic lightweight design and quattro drive paired with a five-cylinder turbo engine, the car was far ahead of its time back then.
The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo has permanent all-wheel drive as well—the fully electric e-tron quattro all-wheel drive with variable power distribution. Three electric motors, each with output of 200 kW, propel the concept car. Two electric motors drive the rear axle and the third one the front axle, using individual components from the future Audi e-tron. System output is 600 kW (815 hp). With a curb weight of 1,450 kilograms (kg), the electric race car has a power-to-weight ratio of 1.78 kg per horsepower with 50:50 percent weight distribution between the front and the rear axle. The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 2.5 seconds.
3. The Audi Aicon EV concept car.
Audi previously announced the Aicon, a futuristic-looking autonomous EV concept car (Fig. 3). The Aicon has four electric motors that produce a total of 260 kW and 550 Nm (405.7 lb-ft) torque. Each motor drives one wheel, enabling electronically controlled, variable all-wheel drive. Maximum acceleration played a less important role than maximum efficiency and range. Audi’s strategy is also pursued by its powertrain and regenerative braking to recover energy and extend its range. Lightweight construction of the multi-material body and optimized aerodynamics help the Aicon achieve specified ranges between 700 and 800 km (435.0-497.1 miles) on a single charge.