Efficiency-minded carmakers are turning to turbocharging in droves, but Audi may be about to do them one better.
The German automaker will put an electric turbocharger into production, and now it has revealed more about its plans for that technology.
According to a new report from Autocar, electric turbocharging will debut on the SQ7, a performance version of the next-generation 2015 Q7 SUV.
A previous report hinted that the technology--dubbed "e-boost" by Audi--would be ready in time for the debut of the standard Q7. The second generation of Audi's biggest current utility vehicle is expected to appear at the 2014 Paris Motor Show this October and go on sale next year.
However, it appears the German carmaker will save the electric turbocharger for a somewhat later debut.
Speaking to Autocar, Audi board member for technical development Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed that the electric turbo would launch on the sportier SQ7, which will likely arrive during calendar year 2016.
Audi RS 5 TDI concept
An electric motor can spool up a turbocharger much quicker than exhaust gases, benefiting both performance and fuel economy.
A more responsive turbo will help the engine produce more low-end power, meaning drivers won't have to venture higher into the rev range--and increase fuel consumption--as much.
Audi previously demonstrated that technology on an RS5 coupe prototype that had its gasoline V8 swapped for a 3.0-liter TDI diesel V6.
In the RS5, a small electric turbo was teamed with a larger, conventional unit. Audi engineers determined that bypassing the electric turbo at higher revs was the most efficient solution, so it seems likely that a similar setup will be used in the SQ7.
When it does arrive in showrooms, the SQ7 will be a larger sibling to the performance-oriented SQ5 crossover, which is sold with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 in Europe but a 3.0-liter TFSI-badged gasoline V6 in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the SQ7 likely won't be the only electric-turbocharged production vehicle for long.
Ferrari is reportedly working on a supercharged engine that uses an electric turbo for improved responsiveness. If it's good enough for the legendary Italian brand, it's possible other carmakers will adopt the technology as well to improve the efficiency of their vehicles without sacrificing performance.
[UPDATE: We've added a note on Ferrari's plans to use an electric turbocharger on a future model.]