Audi revealed the RS Q e-tron Dakar challenger a few weeks ago to compete in the 2022 rally. Unlike other competitors, Audi will be the first competitor to enter the race with a fully electric car with a highly efficient TFSI engine onboard the car to recharge the batteries. The electric e-tron will use the axles from the Formula E car with modified motor-generator units (MGUs) to power the axles.
Unlike Audi’s conventional quattro system, the Dakar competing e-tron will not have mechanically connected axles. Instead, software developed by the carmaker will distribute torque between both axles. The RS Q e-tron will also feature regenerative braking, harnessing as much power as possible. With the new car, Audi is aiming for a spot on the podium, along with the Toyotas and Minis that dominate the race.
To know more about the e-tron, Express Drives got in touch with Audi’s motorsport division, and this is what the team had to say.
The Dakar Rally is seeing a host of electric and alternative fuel vehicles in recent times. How can the RS Q e-tron make a difference?
The concept of the Audi RS Q e-tron is unique. The drivetrain is fully electric, including a high-voltage battery developed by Audi Sport. This will bring us all the advantages of electric cars. The electric engines have instant torque and power, which helps the drivability. Combined with a simulated middle differential by software and the precise modulation of power, it further improves the handling of the car.
We can use a fully electric drivetrain at the Dakar thanks to the unique concept of the energy converter, which will recharge the battery while driving. Until now, no team was able to compete within the classification with an alternative drivetrain. This is a first for Audi and another milestone. Our ultimate goal is to win the Dakar Rally with an alternative drivetrain.
The Dakar Rally is challenging for both, Drivers and Vehicles. What are some of the aspects (safety and reliability) Audi looked into while designing the vehicle?
Safety has always been important for Audi Sport. Everything we’ve learned in other categories is implemented into the RS Q e-tron. Reliability is very important at the Dakar Rally. Every part was designed to last for 14 days under very rough conditions.
If the test proves to be a success, how soon can we see an Audi team competing in the Dakar Rally as a full-fledged factory team?
The team is a full-fledged factory team. We are using the same concept as in LMP, DTM or Formula E: We are working together with an experienced partner. In the case of the Dakar project, this is Q Motorsport.
Can the RS Q e-tron recreate what the Audi Quattro did in the WRC? Has Audi taken any inputs from the Quattro that can be used in the current Dakar challenger?
The Audi quattro was a game-changer in rallying and for the World Rally Championship. We have similar aims with the Audi RS Q e-tron for the Dakar Rally and Cross-Country Rallying. The quattro is an important part of the Audi DNA. You can see it on many Audi road cars today, and we always used the quattro drive in motorsport as well, where the regulations allowed it.
Of course, the quattro drive is different for electric cars as there is no connection between the front and the rear axle. But the feeling for the driver is still the same. And electric drivetrains even offer new opportunities for the quattro concept like the virtual differential used in the Audi RS Q e-tron.
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