The electrified RS Q e-tron
After assembling a powerhouse pairings of drivers, Audi unveils the new RS Q e-tron which it would use in its bid to become the first auto manufacturer using an electrified powertrain to win the legendary Dakar Rally.
With an electric powertrain, the new RS Q e-tron seeks to write Dakar Rally history in the same way Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive technology changed the World Rally Championship four decades ago.
Fitted to the front and rear axles of the new RS Q e-tron are motor-generator units (MGU) lifted off the current Audi e-tron FE07 Formula E car, which Audi has just developed for the 2021 race season. Only minor modifications were needed so that the same MGU can be used in the Dakar Rally challenger. The front and rear axles are not mechanically connected, common in electric vehicles. The software developed by Audi manages the torque distribution between the axles and creates a virtual and freely configurable center differential, saving weight and space.
A third identical MGU forms part of the RS Q e-tron’s energy converter, which recharges the car’s high-voltage battery on the move. Additional energy recuperated from braking is stored in the 50 kWh battery.
Taking into consideration the absence of charging opportunities in the desert—where most of the Dakar Rally’s stages are held, some of which stretching as much as 800 kilometers—Audi equipped the new RS Q e-tron with an innovative charging concept. On board of the vehicle is a highly efficient TFSI engine taken from Audi’s DTM racecars. This combustion engine, a component of the energy converter, charges the car’s battery along with the third MGU.
The electric powertrain of the new RS Q e-tron currently outputs 500 kW—but this can change depending on Dakar Rally rules—and needs only one forward gear.
Visually, the new RS Q e-tron also differs significantly from conventional Dakar racers, marked by futuristic styling while incorporating numerous design elements typical of Audis.
Taking on the Dakar Rally challenge aboard the new RS Q e-tron are the driver pairings of Stephane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger, Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz, and Mattias Ekstrom and Emil Bergkvist.
Peterhansel is the winningest competitor in the Dakar Rally. He has claimed 14 overall victories, the first six of which in the motorcycle division, and the rest after switching to cars in 1999.
Sainz won the Dakar Rally’s car division in 2010, 2018 and 2020. He entered Dakar as a two-time World Rally Champion.
Ekstrom, who competed in DTM for Audi from 2001 until 2018, is racing for Audi in the World Rallycross Championship beginning in 2014. He is a Swedish Touring Car titlist, a two-time DTM champion, and holds a World Rallycross crown. He is also a three-time winner in the Race of Champions.