Audi wants to be the first car manufacturer to use an electrified drivetrain to compete against conventionally-powered competitors in the world’s toughest rally. They will do so come January 2022 with this, Audi RS Q e-tron. It took Audi Sport just one year to go from idea to creating this prototype.

“The quattro was a gamechanger for the World Rally Championship. Audi was also 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,” says Audi Sport.

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“What we are trying to do has never been done before. This is the ultimate challenge for an electric drivetrain.”

A Dakar Rally event usually lasts two weeks and the daily stages can see drivers clock up to 800 kilometers. Making this even more challenging is that there are no charging opportunities in the desert.

Instead, rather than going full electric, Audi will fit in a small, petrol-powered engine as a “charger” for the high voltage batteries while the RS Q e-tron is on the move.

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Driving the wheels are two motor-generator units (MGU) from Audi’s Formula E race car, one for each pair of wheels while a third unit serves to recharge the high voltage batteries while charging. Energy is also recuperated during braking. The batteries weigh about 370 kilograms, with a capacity of 50 kWh.

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Audi believes that the Dakar Rally is the best platform for the development of electromobility as what they learn there will go into making future electric cars better.

“Back then, the engineers didn’t really know what was coming. It’s similar with us. If we finish the first Dakar event, that’s already a success,” said Audi Sport.


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