Audi has recently stated that it will upgrade its vehicle electric system from 12 volts to 48 volts. According to the German automaker, this will allow them to install new technology into their cars while simultaneously increasing power and efficiency.

“We are using the full bandwidth of electrification in our drive principles strategy. Running part of the vehicle electrical system at 48 volts plays a central role in this. It enables us to make more energy available. That paves the way for new technologies with which we can make our cars more sporty, more efficient and more convenient to use,” said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi.

The 48-volt system was first introduced by Audi on the A6 TDI and RS5 TDI concept cars. Both cars utilized an electrical compressor that operated independently, which lessened engine load and increased the acceleration of the car. The use of a 48-volt system alongside a 12-volt system also means that smaller cable cross sections can suffice, decreasing the weight of cable harnesses and at the same time, lower power wastage. The new system will deliver more power than the current electrical system and will allow Audi in electrifying other drivetrain components.

Currently, Audi has designed a compact lithium ion battery that can supply 48 volts to a car. It operates in tandem with an optimized alternator that treats the drivetrain as a mild hybrid. This concept allows many ways of starting,controlling and deactivating the engine. Moreover, the alternator has an energy recovering output of 10kw, 7kw more than a standard alternator. With these figures, Audi has claimed that this can save fuel up to 0.4l/100 km (250km/l).

The German automaker has not yet stated what model will they integrate the 48-volt system besides the concept cars mentioned.