A few months ago Audi announced that it would be tackling the 2022 Dakar Rally. After success on the world rally stages, and more recent dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the German automaker has decided to combine the off-road and endurance disciplines for a new challenge. Today the Audi Dakar RS Q E-tron was revealed to the world.

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New tech

Audi has set itself the aim of becoming the first car manufacturer to use an electrified drivetrain to capture overall victory in the world’s toughest rally. 

“The quattro was a gamechanger for the World Rally Championship. Audi was the first brand to win the Le Mans 24 Hours with an electrified drivetrain. Now, we want to usher in a new era at the Dakar Rally, while testing and further developing our e-tron technology under extreme conditions,” says Julius Seebach, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for motorsport at Audi. 

Electric power

To achieve this goal the Audi RS Q E-tron is fitted with a petrol engine developed for DTM. This  four-cylinder unit is part of the energy converter that charges the high-voltage battery while driving. Power from the battery is then fed to two electric motors that were lifted from Audi’s Formula E racer. The maximum system power of the drivetrain is 500 kW. How much of this will be used during the 2022 Dakar Rally is still being finalsed by the organizers.

Check out a bespoke gallery of images outlining the career of South Africa’s Dakar legend Giniel de Villiers.

One motor powers each axle for all-wheel-drive capability, there is no mechanical link between the two axles. A third MGU, of identical design, is part of the energy converter and recharges the battery while driving. Energy is also recuperated during braking events. There is just a single gear and power is directed to each axle by software algorithms.

Audi will also return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as you can read here.

The battery weighs about 370 kg and has a capacity of around 50 kWh. “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,” says Stefan Dreyer, head of development at Audi Sport for motorsport projects.

Driving team

Three big name pairings have been recruited to drive the all-electric Audi machines that will compete in the 2022 Dakar, which takes place in January. The pairs are Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist (Sweden), Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger (France) and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (Spain). These crews are being referred to as Audi’s ‘dream team’ according to Julius Seebach, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for motorsport. 

Watch the Audi RS Q E-tron development and in action in the videos below: