With the advent of electric vehicles across the globe and the technology finding widespread acceptance among the masses, it is time for motorsports to embrace electric power and advance it continuously. Audi and its Formula E partner Schaeffler just showcased a radical new RS3 based electric concept that has a smashing trick up its sleeve.
The donor vehicle for this electric prototype was the Audi RS3 TCR (Touring Car Racer) that has had its guts removed and replaced a motor at each wheel. The combined output of the electric Audi TCR is 1200hp. On a small handling circuit with a wet surface, the decal-wrapped TCR is sitting innocuously, without giving a hint of what it is capable of.
Suddenly, it starts making a high-pitched whine, and without displacing itself an inch from its position, it starts spinning its wheels fast. The difference is that the left wheels are spinning forwards, while the right ones are spinning in the opposite direction. The result? The RS3 TCR spins about itself four times within a couple of seconds without any steering input whatsoever. It disappears in a cloud of tyre smoke, and then reappears, sitting exactly where it was with four tyre donuts underneath to show for the manic previous few seconds.
How did the car behave in an un-carlike manner? Well, Audi and its Formula E partner Schaeffler’s new all-wheel torque vectoring technology is to blame. What started out as an RS3 TCR has been converted to an EV by automotive technology firm Schaeffler which is Audi’s Formula E partner.
“This car exists for two reasons,” electronics engineer Gregor Gruber says. “The first is to be a test-bed and a demonstrator for our all-wheel torque vectoring capabilities. There is clearly no practical application for a technology that makes a car spin on the spot, but when you realise that all-wheel torque vectoring is so powerful it can make a car do exactly that, you begin to understand how much it can change the behaviour of the car in normal driving.
“The second reason this car exists is to showcase technology transfer from Formula E to something that’s more like a road car. The four motors and inverters are lifted directly from our Formula E car.” The Schaeffler 4ePerformance demo car puts down as much as 1,200 horses through the motors, backed up by a hefty 64kWh battery that brings the car’s weight to 1,800kg- about 600kg more than the standard RS3 TCR. With the amount of power and torque at its disposal, the electric Audi clocks 100kph in 2.5 seconds. “In these conditions,” says Gruber, “the car will do four-wheel burnouts at close to top speed.”