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GKN helps power Audi to victory at Le Mans

Technology from GKN Land Systems has helped power the Audi R18 e-tron quattro to victory in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

GKN’s innovative electric flywheel is at the heart of the hybrid system of the R18 e-tron quattro that has secured its third consecutive win at the world’s oldest and most gruelling endurance race on France’s Circuit de la Sarthe.

GKN Hybrid Power worked closely with Audi engineers to fully integrate its unique electric flywheel into the car.

The key features and benefits of this innovative system are highly suited to endurance racing. The high efficiency energy transfer to and from the e-storage and an insusceptibility to performance or life degradation over a wide range of operating temperatures made GKN Hybrid Power’s flywheel the ideal technology for Audi’s project. The system provides 170kW of power and has a top rotor speed of approximately 40,000rpm.

Gordon Day General Manager, GKN Hybrid Power, said: ‘Congratulations to the Audi Sport team on their third consecutive win for the R18 e-tron quattro in the most demanding endurance race in the world. GKN Hybrid Power is delighted to be working in close technical partnership with the team and to have played our part in this run of success.

We are looking to further improve the thermal efficiency, energy storage and power of the system to ensure we remain at the forefront of this technology in endurance racing going forward.’

Nigel Stein, chief executive GKN plc, added: ‘This is a great result for Audi and GKN is incredibly proud to have worked on this exciting technology, which is also being used on public transport, initially in city buses, to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in cities.’

The Audi R18 e-tron quattro made history in June 2012 by becoming the first hybrid car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and this success was matched at the 2013 race, with the flywheel-powered Audi R18 e-tron quattro once again taking the chequered flag.

Earlier this year GKN announced the acquisition of Williams Hybrid Power from Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited to form GKN Hybrid Power, which is focused on delivering complete hybrid solutions across multiple vehicle, power and industrial markets. The high-speed flywheel system from GKN Hybrid Power is already achieving fuel efficiency savings of over 20% on prototype buses being trialled in London.

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