Foreshadowed two years ago in the Q7 Hybrid Concept, Audi has announced today its first hybrid system will be introduced on its largest vehicle in select markets towards the end of 2008.

Foreshadowed two years ago in the Q7 Hybrid Concept, Audi has announced today its first hybrid system will be introduced on its largest vehicle in select markets towards the end of 2008.

Flowing through Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive transmission, the in-line or “full” hybrid system using Audi's 280hp 3.6-liter FSI petrol engine with an electric motor makes several major improvements over the standard 3.6-liter FSI. The electric motor which is powered by a 288-volt nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery is good for an additional 51hp. Acceleration from 0-62 mph improves by 0.6 seconds to 8.5 seconds. Power rises from 233hp to 240hp, delivered at 4,000rpm, and the standard 3.6 FSI engine with its 375 Nm of torque, gets complimented by the electric motor contributing its own 285 Nm. But most importantly, this hybrid model reduces fuel consumption and C02 emissions by approximately 23 percent.

The hybrid system operates in three modes. Either petrol engine or electric motor can operate independently as the drive unit or the vehicle can combine the power of the two for acceleration. Capable of operating alone up to speeds of 30mph the electric motor is able to recharge the battery through kinetic energy generated when the vehicle is braked or coasting. During this operation, known as recuperation, the electric motor reverses its function to become an alternator.

The battery capacity allows the vehicle to be driven up to 1.2 miles on electric power only. When the battery capacity has reached it operting limit the petrol engine kicks in to recharge it. Meanwhile, coasting or regenerative braking also have the ability to recharge the battery.

From the press release below, “If the Audi Q7 hybrid is coasting without the accelerator pedal being depressed, the combustion engine is switched off – this is possible at speeds up to 74mph. It is also switched off if the vehicle remains stationary for more than three seconds. To continue the journey, all the driver has to do is to remove his foot from the brake and to depress the accelerator pedal again.”

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Audi Announces Q7 Hybrid for Late 2008