Audi Sport has begun testing the Audi RS Q e-tron electric car. It is the electric prototype with a range extender that will be the protagonist of the Dakar Rally 2022.
Audi is the first manufacturer to officially participate in the Dakar Rally with an innovative electric prototype with a range extender. Audi is a pioneer of the energy revolution in rally raids and aims to fight for absolute victory against competitors equipped with traditional engines.
"By lining up at the Dakar Rally, Audi remains faithful to its philosophy of developing the most innovative solutions in competitions, destined for future production cars - says Julius Seebach, CEO of Audi Sport GmbH and Head of the Brand's international sporting activities. In rallies, for example, we have refined the quattro all-wheel drive. We were the first car manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a hybrid-powered model. During the Dakar, we will test and push the components of tomorrow's electric powertrains to their limits." The Audi RS Q e-tron project was created in record time.
The Dakar Rally event lasts two weeks and includes daily stages up to 800 kilometres long.
"We are trying to achieve a feat never faced before - underlines Andreas Roos, Project Manager Dakar of Audi Sport - Audi is the first manufacturer in the world to participate in the Dakar with an alternative powertrain: once again, the House of the four rings is a pioneer in the development of unprecedented technical and mobility solutions."
Since it is not possible to recharge the high-voltage battery in the desert, Audi has opted for an on-board solution: the accumulator, weighing approximately 370 kilograms and with a capacity of 50 kWh with energy while driving thanks to the action of a range extender. The latter function is entrusted to the high-performance four-cylinder TFSI - turbo with direct petrol injection - derived from the DTM, the German Touring Championship.
"This engine - adds Andreas Roos - is extraordinarily efficient and avant-garde in terms of overall dimensions and vibration reduction. Moreover, it will be used during special tests exclusively to generate energy for the battery. This means that the propulsion of our prototype is 100% electric."
The Audi RS Q e-tron is equipped with three powertrains derived from the Audi e-tron FE07 Formula E single-seater, engaged in the top series of zero-emission sports motoring: two MGUs (Motor Generator Units), one at each axle while a third unit acts as a generator to help recharge the high voltage battery, especially when braking. Furthermore, the MGUs have been redeveloped to the peculiarities of walking in the desert, where environmental conditions and pressures are entirely different from city circuits.
"The battery was developed in-house, in collaboration with a specialist partner - explains Stefan Dreyer, Audi Sport Development Manager for sports projects. As engineers, we usually see the potential for improvement in any component. In the case of the electric powertrain, we have achieved a system efficiency of over 97%. A result to which the experience in Formula E contributed. In this respect, the development margins are small. The know-how that we will develop thanks to the Dakar project will benefit future BEV models of the four rings. Audi is working closely with our colleagues in the road car department."
The Audi RS Q e-tron electric car can count on a maximum system power of 680 hp. However, it has not yet been defined at the regulatory level how many horses can be exploited during the Dakar. The electric propulsion guarantees multiple advantages, starting from the rapid delivery of the MGUs, making the quattro electric four-wheel drive extremely precise and efficient. Furthermore, the prototype of the four rings, equipped with a single-speed transmission, benefits from a significant mechanical simplification compared to competitors with traditional engines, giving up the classic drive shaft and the central differential to the advantage of the reduction of the masses and the possibility of varying the strategy for distributing the thrust between the front and rear in a few hundredths of a second.
The new Audi RS Q e-tron electric car differs significantly from its competitors also in design. The spectacular electric car has a futuristic appearance and evolves multiple typical Audi stylistic features - says Juan Manuel Diaz, Team Leader Design Motorsport.
The participation in the Dakar sees the Q Motorsport GmbH team as the protagonist, which will take care of the development and management of the electric prototype in collaboration with Audi Sport.
Audi has enduringly opted for innovative and daring technical solutions, especially in competitions. Audi RS Q e-tron is undoubtedly the most complex avant-garde car I have ever seen - says team principal Sven Quandt. The fully electric drive requires multiple systems to communicate perfectly with each other to ensure performance and reliability—an extraordinary challenge considering the environmental conditions and terrain characteristic of rally raids.
The Audi RS Q e-tron took its first steps in early July at the Audi Motorsport Competence Center in Neuburg. By the end of the year, the electric car will go through many tests and participate in some rally raids.
Audi has drawn up a fast-paced development program to make our innovative prototype immediately competitive - says Andreas Roos. However, under a year have passed since the program's official launch, and Audi designed the car when the regulations for alternative propulsion cars had not yet been drafted.