— Audi says its next-generation A8 flagship sedan will boast the industry's first mass-market Level 3 self-driving capabilities, a reference to SAE International's widely accepted six-level classification of automated driving (Level Zero through Level 5). But that's not all. The next A8 will also employ a 48-volt electrical system and light hybrid drivetrain. The system will also feature energy-regenerative brakes, additional acceleration and Used Engine shut-off during coasting, according to a new report in Automotive News.
Citing Audi's chief of mild hybrid systems, Alexander Kruse, at an event in Germany, Automotive News said the system employs a 48-volt lithium-ion battery and belt-driven alternator-starter system. It can recharge the battery as the sedan decelerates, allowing the Used Engine to turn off during coasting at 19 to 99 mph for up to 45 seconds, the newspaper says. In turn, the battery can provide 12 kilowatts of power for about 45 pounds-feet of torque during acceleration. The system will come on all versions of the A8, and Automotive News says it will improve fuel consumption by 0.7 liters per 100 kilometers in European driving cycles.
Specifics for the U.S. A8 remain unclear, but Audi chairman Rupert Stadler told reporters at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 7 that every Audi model would someday offer a light hybrid system — and it would start with the next A8, according to Stadler's prepared remarks. Two spokesmen for Audi's U.S. operations confirmed to today that the A8 would have a 48-volt system. But they did not elaborate beyond that, except to point us toward the Q8 concept — which incorporates a 48-volt electrical system and light hybrid drivetrain — to give "a more clear understanding of what is coming in the A8."
Stay tuned for more: Audi will unveil the redesigned A8 on July 11. It hits dealers in the first half of 2018.