Can Audi’s Electrified RSQ E-Tron Win at Dakar?
Audi has announced it has entered what is perhaps the most demanding race in the world, the Dakar Rally for 2022. This, in of itself, isn’t historic news. What is of note, however, is the vehicle they are entering. Audi intends to race its RSQ E-Tron, a newly developed hybrid from the automaker.
While Audi is couching its entry by stating just finishing would be a success, the company obviously has its sights set a bit higher. In fact, the automaker’s famous Quattro all-wheel drive virtually changed the world of racing at the World Rally Championship decades ago. Just this past July, Audi reached another milestone when it was the first to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a hybrid powertrain.
But is it ready for one of the most extreme competitions on Earth? Can it survive a two-week race with daily stages of up to 500 miles?
A Look at The Nuts, Bolts and Batteries
The Audi RSQ E-Tron is powered with a combination of an inline four cylinder turbocharged 2.0 liter engine, an electric motor on each of its two axles and a 50-kWh battery. Audi makes use of what it has learned in the past utilizing the gas engine used in its RS5 Turbo DTM. The electric motors come from the E-Tron FE Formula E-Car.
In the RSQ E-Tron, the engine serves as a generator, charging the battery when running. It actually spins a third electric motor that reaches peak performance between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm.
This third engine serves as a generator while braking, turning physical and heat energy and converting it to electrical power.
The electric drive motors combine to create 671 horsepower.
The Advantage of an Electric Powertrain
The electric powertrain in the Audi RSQ E-Tron has some distinct advantages in a race like Dakar, including the fact that the driver has precision control of each engine. This delivers more solid drivability. In addition, the front and rear axles are not physically connected. Rather than the routine mechanical connection, the axles are controlled through Audi developed software, resulting in a much more freely configurable center differential. Along with improved drivability, the system also saves weight.
Audi has achieved an impressive system efficiency of 97%. This efficiency, along with what is learned at Dakar will eventually make its way into its production models as the world becomes more electrified.
Can the RSQ E-Tron win at Dakar? Will it have at least an impressive finish? Will it be able to finish at all? Audi claims a finish will be a triumph. At least for now.