Audi Thinks Electric Turbochargers Are The Future

Once the province of sports cars only, automakers are now turning to turbochargers as a cost-effective way of providing both performance and efficiency. Audi is going even further, working on a line of electronically-assisted turbochargers that will do away with “turbo lag,” curing one of the most common gripes with turbo setups.

Turbochargers utilize captured exhaust gases to spin a compressor wheel that sucks in extra air for the intake. More air means more power, though these days that power does not mean a loss in efficiency. But it can take the turbos awhile to build up enough speed to be effective, causing a sudden surge of power, rather than a steady build up.

Audi’s plan is simple; add a small electric motor to spool up the turbocharger at low RPMs, rather than a second turbocharger as was the old solution. The motor will get power from regenerative braking and will also allow the catalytic converter to warm up (and thus be more effective) quicker. This lowers emissions, and will also help improve fuel economy if I’m not mistaken. Competitor BMW is working in a similar electric turbo system, as well as a system to capture waste heat.

Electric turbocharging does seem like it has potential, and turbochargers are only gaining in popularity. What are your thoughts to this interesting solution to turbo lag?

Source: Motor Authority

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.