Audi is apparently using a hybrid-powered Batmobile as its next Le Mans 24 Hours racer

It might look like something out a satanic version of Tron, but the R18 e-tron quattro is actually Audi’s latest Le Mans 24 Hours racer – and it packs an amazing technical punch. In fact, it has one of the highest efficiency race engines ever designed: a TDI V6 with two hybrid drive systems. Surprisingly, it has no hybrid batteries. Black magic? Maybe. But if it is magic, the R18 is German, so we know it will work.

When designing this car, Audi decided to focus on efficiency, a strategy that has already netted the German automaker a string of Le Mans victories. What’s new for this year is the focus on reducing energy consumption. In fact, this year’s R18 will be just as fast – if not faster – while using 30 percent less fuel.

So how is this evil eco-wizardry possible? Well, Audi is using hybrid systems. The first is a pretty standard Motor-Generator-Unit that recovers kinetic energy during braking. However, instead of big heavy batteries, energy is stored in a flywheel on the front axle. The technology is still limited to racing, but it isn’t new, having been used in Formula One for several years.

The real innovation is Audi’s second hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo exhaust. Details are hard to come by, but what Audi will say is that once the turbo has reached its maximum boost, the system stops compressing inlet gasses and begins turning a generator. This is a technology we suspect you’ll see on road-going cars in a few years, as it is an easy way to capture untapped energy.

All of this technology has been crammed into an incredibly aerodynamic body shell. I am not going to go into the details that Audi provided, because I am not actually an expert in fluid dynamics. What I will say, however, is that aerodynamics have rarely looked so sinister or awesome, even if the effect is ruined slightly by the cheerful Michelin Men stamped on the front. I know that automotive journalists, including myself, compare every third car to the Batmobile, but, really, this car looks like the Batmobile. Or, rather, the child of the Batmobile and an evil light-cycle from Tron.

Regardless, kudos to Audi’s wind tunnel and designers for creating this awesome shape. I can only hope that the technology lives up to expectations and actually delivers incredible race speeds on mere sips of fuel.


This 717-horsepower Dodge Charger is the ultimate family sedan

The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat gets a 10-horsepower boost, but only for a limited-edition model. The special Charger commemorates the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona -- one of the wildest American muscle cars.

2020 Honda Civic hatchback keeps the manual-transmission faith

The 2020 Honda Civic hatchback was treated to a subtle exterior facelift. Honda also expanded the availability of both the manual transmission and 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

2019 Audi E-Tron is the first electric car to earn top IIHS safety rating

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the first electric car to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. But the IIHS hasn't tested the Audi's two main rivals -- the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X.

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.

Vintage Electric readies the Roadster Speed Merchant, a souped-up ebike

Vintage Electric introduced the latest in its line of retro-styled premium performance ebikes for fall 2019. The Vintage Roadster gets styling cues from board track racing motorcycles and its power from a 1,123-watt battery.

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are some of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

Infiniti’s Formula One-inspired Project Black S may enter production

The Infiniti Project Black S is a Q60 luxury coupe enhanced with a Formula One-inspired hybrid powertrain. The 563-horsepower car can sprint from zero to 62 mph in under four seconds, according to Infiniti.

Toyota raises the curtain on 2020 Corolla Nightshade Editions

The 2020 Toyota Corolla SE sedan and hatchback with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) will be available in Nightshade Editions, joining the Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, and Sienna with the blacked-out trim style option.

Here’s why your Uber or Lyft car always seems to be a Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular cars sold in the United States, and not just with retail buyers. Uber and Lyft drivers love the Camry for its reliability, according to a new report.

The electric Volkswagen ID Buggy makes even Ferrari drivers stop and stare

Volkswagen traveled to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to introduce an electric dune buggy named ID Buggy, and Digital Trends drove it in California. It's a modern-day tribute to the 1960s Meyers Manx.

Infiniti will take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz with its own crossover coupe

Launching in 2020, the Infiniti QX55 will be a crossover coupe similar to models that have proven successful for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Infiniti said the QX55 will have styling influenced by its early 2000s FX.

Limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS returns for 2020, WRX and STI get minor tweaks

Subaru performance cars remain mostly unchanged for the 2020 model year. The big news is the return of the limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS sports car, with production capped at 300 units.

The Bugatti Centodieci is only possible because of the latest design tech

Bugatti is celebrating its 110th birthday by releasing a limited-edition hypercar named Centodieci. It's based on the Chiron, but its engine makes 1,600 horsepower, and it's a tribute to the EB110 released during the 1990s.

Discover the engineering Easter eggs in the new 2020 Ford Explorer

The 2020 Ford Explorer received a ground-up overhaul, with major changes that include a new hybrid powertrain option. But even the engineering details of the new Explorer are worth checking out.