The Audi RS Q e-tron is being developed for the 2022 Dakar Rally to compete against conventionally-powered competitors.
The Dakar Rally lasts two weeks and the daily stages are up to 800 kilometres in length. The drivetrain of the Audi RS Q e-tron is electric, but because there are no charging opportunities in the desert, onboard the Audi RS Q e-tron there’s a TFSI engine, part of an energy converter that charges the high-voltage battery while driving. The combustion engine is operated in the particularly efficient range between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm.
The front and rear axles of the Audi RS Q e-tron are both fitted with a motor-generator unit (MGU) from the current Audi e-tron FE07 Formula E car which has been developed by Audi Sport for the 2021 season. Only minor modifications had to be made to use the MGU in the Dakar Rally.
A third MGU, of identical design, is part of the energy converter and recharges the high voltage battery while driving. In addition, energy is recuperated during braking. The battery weighs about 370 kg and has a capacity of around 50 kWh.
The maximum system power of the e-drivetrain is 500 kW. How much of this may be used during the Dakar Rally is still being finalised by the organisers. The electric drivetain offers many advantages. The electric motors can be controlled extremely precisely and can thus ensure good drivability. In addition, braking energy can be recovered.
The Audi RS Q e-tron only needs one forward gear. The front and rear axles are not mechanically connected, as is also common in electric vehicles. The software developed by Audi takes over the torque distribution between the axles and thus creates a virtual and freely configurable centre differential, which has the positive side effect of being able to save the weight and space that would have been required by propshafts and a mechanical differential.
The prototype of the Audi RS Q e-tron had its first roll-out in Neuburg at the beginning of July. An intensive test programme and the first test entries at cross-country rallies are on the agenda from now until the end of the year.