Audi is making big waves, as the first major automaker to us an electrified Dakar Rally racer, the Audi RS Q e-tron. Audi is using the RS Q e-tron as a test bed for future electric technologies, as well as an endurance test. At least for the latter, the RS Q e-tron is exceeding expectations, as it just recently survived eight days in brutal heat and gravel roads.
For this test, all three Audi Sport driver teams piloted the Audi RS Q e-tron through the rough Spanish terrain during those eight days. Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger, Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist, and Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz were the three two-driver teams. All of them seemed impressed.
“For a first test in proper conditions for the car I’m really happy how the car behaves already,” said Carlos Sainz on behalf of his fellow drivers. “I had a really good feeling straight away. Of course, there is fine-tuning to be done – but the starting point is good.”
“This test was focused on getting in as much driving as possible and detecting weak spots,” development engineer Arnau Niubó Bosch said after more than 1,700 test kilometers of hard driving. “The next test in September will take us into the dunes for the first time.”
The Audi RS Q e-tron is powered by two electric motors, giving it all-wheel drive. The electric motors are the same sorts of motors Audi used in Formula E. However, rather than being powered by a battery pack, they’re powered by two motor generator units (MGU). There’s a high-voltage battery that actually gives the electric motors power but the battery is recharged by these MGUs, which consist of a small Audi TFSI engine. It’s all quite complex, which isn’t typically ideal for the Dakar Rally but that’s the point. Audi is looking to push the boundaries of electric powertrain technology in the harsh conditions. So far, so good.