There’s no doubt that hybrid electric drives are an important part of the American automotive market. Though diesel technologies now encompass more than 50% of the European car market and are expected to grow in popularity here in the USA as new models become available, there’s no denying that hybrids are well entrenched as the frontrunner in green technologies in this market. Audi knows this, and is moving to make its own production hybrid models available. In fact, the company is so close in development that they’ve allowed a limited number of press to sample an early prototype fitted to a Q7 3.6.
Unlike more commonly seen hybrids on the market today such as the Toyota Prius, the Audi is what Ingolstadt refers to as a “full hybrid”, having the flexibility to run on either electric power or spark ignition alone, as well as to utilize a combination of the two.
Like many hybrids today, the Audi system uses regenerative braking, which allows the car’s batteries to be charged when kinetic energy is converted to electrical power during coasting or braking that can later be used for forward propulsion.
Fuel consumption savings are to be expected. Audi benchmarks the performance of their own diesel models as the goal for consumption by petrol-based hybrids. This Q7 uses the 3.6 FSI, arguably not as efficient as the 3.2 FSI with Valvelift we’d expect to see used in the B8-based Q5 Hybrid, but the 3.6 Q7 is still reported to be 23% more efficient than its road-going non-hybrid equivalent.