Audi has begun testing the evolution of the electric race car with which it aspires to score the first battery-powered car victory in the history of the Dakar Rally in January 2022.
The German company’s project is the toughest test so far for electrification: covering routes that can reach up to a thousand kilometers a day, most of them at a racing pace, in some of the toughest terrains on the planet – away from asphalt and culture.
Given that there is not yet a car battery compact enough and light enough to meet these needs, and there are no chargers in the desert, the Audi RS Q e-tron is driven exclusively by the electric motor, but it also has an energy converter that includes the TFSI petrol engine from the German Tourism Championship (DTM).
The turbo internal combustion engine has exclusively the role of charging the battery while driving. Based on its power and torque curve, TFSI will operate in the range of 4,500-6,000 rpm, meaning it will consume less than 200 grams. fuel for each kWh of charging.
Audi’s electric race car drive system, however, is purely electric. To achieve all-wheel drive, each axle also has an electric motor (MGU) – this is the power unit that Audi Sport has developed for the Audi e-tron FE07 of this year’s Formula E electric championship, with minor modifications.
There is also a third electric motor, which is part of the power converter and, taking the energy of the TFSI, charges the battery on the go. The battery has a capacity of 50 kWh, so it does not add more than 370 kg to the weight of the Audi RS Q e-tron, and of course there is also a power recovery system during braking.
The performance of the system reaches 500 kW, i.e. 670 horsepower, but perhaps the organizers of the Dakar Rally will place restrictions for reasons of performance balance (what is called balance of performance in other institutions) in relation to cars that will participate with conventional, thermal engine.
Compared to the latter, electrification provides several advantages. One of these is the more accurate control of the electric motors, thus ensuring better driveability, and in addition the braking energy that would go to waste can be recovered.
After the Audi RS Q e-tron’s electric race car first contact with the soil, in Neuburg, Germany in early July 2021 (less than a year after it began its design, with still unclear technical regulations and in the midst of a pandemic), it launched an exhaustive testing program of the prototype, which will include participation in other Cross Country Rallies