The brand with the rings takes on the challenge of completing (and why not winning) the next edition of the famous rally-raid thanks to its original prototype: an electric car… with a little gasoline in it all the same.
Audi claims to overcome the Dakar rally with an electric car from its next edition, in January 2022. You read correctly, the brand with the rings announces that it will be able to link, for two weeks, long desert stages, some of which exceed 800 km, with an innovative battery-powered prototype. Its name: RS Q e-tron.
Eureka! The German manufacturer would therefore have got hold of a totally revolutionary solution allowing the autonomy of a battery-powered vehicle to be extended almost indefinitely. This technology is… the combustion engine.
Yes, presented like that, it’s a bit disappointing. However, the RS Q e-tron shows a certain daring, even more certainly of great complexity. Its propulsion is indeed provided by a pair of electric motors supplied with 800 V. Both come from the Formula E of the firm, the FE07, one and the other each driving an axle through the intermediary of a single-speed transmission.
A third electric machine is connected with a 2.0 turbo petrol 4-cylinder engine acting as a generator to maintain the charge of a 50 kWh battery and approximately 370 kg.
The thermal block in question is the one used by Audi Sport in DTM before the famous German championship turned recently to GT3 regulations. Its designers say that by maintaining a speed between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm, the range within which its performance is optimal, its consumption would remain contained. This does not prevent the fuel tank, located on the back of the crew, to display a capacity of nearly 300 liters. It’s probably just in case …
As you will have understood, the future prototype of Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel, Matthias Ekström and their respective navigators uses the principle of the electric (or hybrid) car with range extender, like an Opel Ampera from the beginning of the 2010s. Like it, the RS Q e-tron can also be recharged through a plug, Audi and ASO, the promoter of the Dakar, thinking about the most sustainable solution to refuel at the middle of the desert between each stage.
The organizers of the competition must also decide on the maximum power authorized in the race, the 4 × 4 with the rings being able to accumulate 500 kW (or 680 hp). In the absence of a transmission shaft between the two axles, the distribution of the cavalry to the four wheels is ensured by the electronics which recreates a virtual central differential, allowing by definition small savings in weight and bulk.
Given the relatively innovative nature of the project, Audi nevertheless recognizes that after very first tests which took place this July, seeing the finish line next January would already be a first victory.
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