Audi is believed to be developing a new version of its trademark quattro all-wheel-drive system, with newly revealed technical patents suggesting the use of electrically driven elements.

Audi Q7 - 1

According to a new report by Autocar, Audi is working on two engineering projects tipped to make their way into production vehicles in the coming years.

The first is for a new generation of the German car maker’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, using an electrically driven rear axle.

Believed to combine its existing quattro unit with electric and hybrid drive, the new system will rely on sensors to detect wheel rotation and slip and variably feed in power gained from regenerative braking according to road conditions.

Audi patent 1

Expected to help marry a hybrid transmission with an all-wheel-drive drivetrain, the new technology could also lead to a more intelligent and faster-reacting quattro system able to be employed across petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles.

Still only in its early stages, an electrically assisted quattro unit could be incorporated in the upcoming Q7 e-tron hybrid or possibly regular variants of the second-generation Q7 SUV – the former confirmed to be shown before the release of the latter in 2015.

With a production version looking ever more likely, the 515kW/880Nm hybrid-powered Sport quattro sports car could also be another contender for the advanced system.

A second patent suggesting the use of hinged aerodynamic wheel spoke flaps was also revealed. Designed to move radially over the wheel spokes as rotation increases, the flaps, at speed, effectively create a completely flat wheel cover aimed at reducing drag and improving efficiency.

Apart from being speed sensitive, Audi’s patent application suggests the flaps are additionally temperature sensitive and able to open up if brake cooling is required.