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By Michael Bernstein
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

By now you know about Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system. It is the hallmark of the brand and a major contributor to Audi's exceptional driving performance, as well as its remarkable sales growth.

That’s not opinion, but the cold hard sales figures that were reveled during the Audi press conference held during the North American International Auto Show January 11, 2016. According to Audi executive, Scott Keogh, the company doubled its sales to 200,000 units sold.

Now that there no Earthly lands to conquer, Audi has set its sights upward and I mean way up to the lunar surface. That’s right Audi not only unveiled a working prototype of a lunar rover they have developed in a partnership with a German organization, Part-Time Scientists, but they also had a very special guest on hand to make the announcement and tease their up-coming Super Bowl spot entitled ”Commander”; Apollo 17 astronaut and a true American hero astronaut Captain Gene Cernan.

Captain Cernan was As the last man to walk and drive on the moon Captain Cernan shared his inspirational story of his mission to the moon and how the U.S. missions were sources of pride not only in this country, but the entire world. He somewhat sheepishly admitted to damaging the rover’s fender, only then realizing he couldn’t call AAA!

The Audi lunar Quattro was developed as an entry into the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a space travel competition that has approximately $30,000,000 in prize money up for grabs to the winner. In order to win, the lunar Quattro will have to be rocketed 236,121 miles into space, land on the moon at almost the same spot Cap. Cernan Apollo 17 mission landed back in 1972 and operate remotely in some of the harshest conditions with temperatures that range from 120-300 degrees Celsius.

Of the original 32 teams that entered, the Audi lunar Quattro is one of only 16 teams left standing. In fact it has already been awarded $750,000 in prize money by winning two prizes known as Milestone prizes in the competition. It has been tested in the Austrian Alps and on Tenerife, two of the harshest environments on our planet.

The Audi lunar Quattro is constructed of high-strength aluminum and magnesium resulting in an overall vehicle weight of 35 kilograms. That’s less than 78lbs! Unlike other lunar rovers, most of the component parts were not cast and bored, but were 3-D printed. This allowed the team to maximize efficiency and performance. A swilling solar panel captures the light needed to charge the lithium-ion batteries that power the four wheel hub engines. All four wheels are capable of turning 360 degrees.

Top speed on the lunar Quattro is estimated to be 2.2 mph, but it has off road capabilities that will allow it to navigate the extreme lunar surface that makes Moab look like as drag strip.

Audi hopes that the experience working on this exciting project will help it improve the products that travel on Earth and further the advancement in electric motors, power electronics and battery life and capabilities.