Audi to electrify 2022 Dakar Rally with RS Q e-tron EV

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Audi looks to become the first carmaker to use an electric vehicle (with an efficient energy converter) against conventionally powered competitors in the upcoming 2022 Dakar Rally.

That said, the German carmaker begins testing of the RS Q e-tron concept car to overcome the potential challenges of the world’s toughest rally. The team sent the prototype unit to its first roll-out in Neuburg at the beginning of July.

An intensive test program and the first test entries at cross-country rallies are on the agenda from now until the end of the year according to Audi.

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“The quattro was a gamechanger for the World Rally Championship. Audi was the first brand to win the Le Mans 24 Hours with an electrified drivetrain. Now, we want to usher in a new era at the Dakar Rally, while testing and further developing our e-tron technology under extreme conditions,” said Audi Sport GmbH Managing Director Julius Seebach.

“Our RS Q e-tron was created on a blank sheet of paper in record time and stands for Vorsprung durch Technik,” he added.

Tuning the RS Q e-tron for the 2022 Dakar Rally means that the electrified dune drifter will run a two-week event with daily stages of up to 800 kilometers in distance. Because there are no charging opportunities in the desert, Audi has developed an innovative charging concept that should allow the RS Q e-tron to last the long-distance rally.

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“The battery is also a proprietary development that we have realized together with a partner,” says Audi Sport Head of Development, Stefan Dreyer.

“As engineers, we basically see development potential in every component. But in terms of the drivetrain system, we have already achieved a system efficiency of over 97 percent in Formula E. There’s not much more room for improvement. The situation is quite different with the battery and energy management. This is where the greatest development potential lies in electromobility in general. What we learn from the extremely challenging Dakar project will flow into future production models. As always, we are also working closely with our colleagues from road car development on this project,” added Dreyer.

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Audi fitted the RS Q e-tron with a highly-efficient TFSI engine from the DTM which only acts as an energy converter that charges the high-voltage battery while driving.

Power comes from two motor-generator units (MGU) located on both the front and rear axles which were developed for Audi e-tron FE07 Formula E car. A third MGU is integrated into the energy converter.

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The Audi RS Q e-tron’s e-drivetrain has a maximum system power of 500kW (670 horsepower). How much of this may be used during the upcoming Darak Rally is still being finalized by the race organizers.

“Less than 12 months have passed since the project officially started. We had to begin the development while the regulations for alternatively-powered vehicles had not even been finalized yet,” explained Audi Sport Dakar Project Lead Andreas Roos.

Audi reportedly withdraws as a works team from the Formula E series to focus on the Dakar Rally and the eventual return of the iconic Four Rings to Le Mans. 

Photos from Audi

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