Audi has announced its entry into the 2022 Dakar rally with its new RS Q e-tron rally car.
Currently undergoing testing, the RS Q e-tron will use an electrified powertrain as it aims to conquer one of the toughest motorsport events on the planet.
Lasting two weeks, the Dakar Rally requires entrants to cover daily stages of up to 500 miles in length.
“That’s a very long distance,” says Andreas Roos, responsible for the Dakar project at Audi Sport. “What we are trying to do has never been done before. This is the ultimate challenge for an electric drivetrain.”
Due to the lack of charging opportunities in the desert, the RS Q e-tron makes use of a 2.0-litre petrol engine from one of Audi’s DTM cars. Rather than driving the wheels, however, it is used as a range-extender to power the electric powertrain.
The front and rear axles both utilise an electric motor taken from Audi’s 2021 Formula E car, while a third unit works as an energy converter between the electric battery and the combustion engine. The petrol engine is entirely disconnected from the wheels.
The battery itself is 50kWh in capacity and weighs ‘around 370 kilograms’ according to Audi. The front and rear axles are not mechanically connected, but software can actively distribute the torque between them. Energy usually lost when braking can also be retained and stored in the battery
The maximum system output of the powertrain is 50kW, though how much of this can be used legally in the rally is still being determined by the event’s organisers.
“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 Julius Seebach, managing director of Audi Sport and responsible for motorsport at Audi.