Audi is heralding an energy revolution in the world’s toughest motorsport event as it sets out to become the first auto manufacturer to fight for overall victory in the Dakar Rally with a vehicle using an electrified drivetrain. Spearheading the brand’s challenge in the 2022 edition of the legendary cross-country rally that takes off in the high deserts of Saudi Arabia on Jan. 1 is the Audi RS Q e-tron, which combines an electrified drivetrain with a high-voltage battery and an energy converter.
The experience gained in the Dakar Rally will be incorporated into the further development of Audi’s fully electric production e-tron models.
This latest move further signifies Audi’s “e-volution,” or the brand’s transformation into an electric mobility company. Audi plans to have more than 20 fully and 10 partially electric models by 2025, and will only release fully electric vehicles by 2026.
In the Philippines, Audi is set to introduce its e-tron range of fully electric vehicles in January 2022. Scheduled for local release are the fully electric Audi e-tron SUV, the e-tron GT four-door grand tourer, and the dynamic RS e-tron GT that is currently the flagship model — and the most powerful production car Audi has ever made — in the e-tron range.
The RS Q e-tron which Audi Sport — the high-performance division of Audi — specifically designed to challenge the Dakar Rally took key technological elements not only from road-going production e-tron models, but also from Audi’s successful e-tron FE07 Formula E electric racecar.
One of these elements is the motor-generator unit (MGU). The Audi RS Q e-tron is fitted with two MGUs, with one mounted on the front axle and another on the rear axle. Together, these provide an electric quattro system that drives the wheels. A third MGU, paired with an Audi TFSI internal-combustion engine taken from a DTM racecar, serves as an energy converter that recharges the high-voltage battery while the vehicle is being driven.
To play key roles in Audi’s transformative participation in the Dakar Rally 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 with 14 overall victories to his name. Sainz, who had entered the Dakar Rally as a two-time World Rally Champion, claimed the series’ car division titles in 2010, 2018 and 2020. Ekstrom races for Audi in the DTM and is also a World Rallycross champion.
Audi’s return to rallying with an electric vehicle comes around full circle as the Audi Quattro model of the early 1980s revolutionized the sport with all-wheel drive. Today, Audi’s permanent all-wheel drive quattro is standard in many of its production models, and also comes in electric form in the fully electric e-tron range.
Audi, which targets to become carbon-neutral by 2050, has been accelerating its electrification roadmap by intensifying investments in products and future technologies. It recently allocated a large portion of its revenue to research and development as it aims to lead the industry in pursuing sustainable, electric-powered mobility. Audi RS Q e-tron took key technological elements from road-going production e-tron models, as well as from the e-tron FE07 Formula E electric racecar.