Here it is: the range-extender EV Audi will enter into the formidable Dakar Rally next year. It’s called the RS Q e-tron and it’s… quite the thing.
Under the mad bodywork you’ll find two e-motors nicked from the company’s 2021 Formula E car. These motors, one for each axle, draw power from a 50kWh battery that weighs around 370kg. Total output is 680hp, but Audi says how much power it’ll actually be allowed to deploy is “still being finalised by the organisers”.
Keeping the battery topped-up – there aren’t many rapid chargers in the Saudi desert – is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine from… an old DTM car. Cor.
The aim, says Audi, is “to be the first car manufacturer to use an electrified drivetrain in combination with an efficient energy converter to compete for overall victory against conventionally-powered competitors in the world’s toughest rally”. The company announced it would enter Dakar, re-enter Le Mans and withdraw from Formula E last November.
Audi will enter three RS Q e-trons in next year’s Dakar. Driving them will be Stéphane Peterhansel, who’s won the rally a record 14 times, WRC legend Carlos Sainz (a three-time Dakar winner) and DTM/WRX champ Mattias Ekström.
“This project’s schedule is extremely packed and challenging,” says Andreas Roos, the man responsible for Audi’s Dakar project. “Less than twelve months have passed since the project officially started. We had to begin the development while the regulations for alternatively-powered vehicles had not even been finalised yet. And all of the development took place during the Corona pandemic.”
Audi Sport’s head of development for motorsport said: “What we learn from the extremely challenging Dakar project will flow into future production models. As always, we are also working closely with our colleagues from road car development on this project.”
Exciting times, no?
STORY Tom Harrison