Audi wins the Dakar Rally with its series-hybrid 4WD
In January 2024, for the first time, a low-emission prototype with an electric drive, high-voltage battery and energy converter won the world’s toughest desert rally.
An Audi RS Q e-tron competition vehicle, crewed by Spaniards Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz, secured Audi’s first victory in the 7900-kilometre Dakar Rally. The other e-tron, crewed by Swedes Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist, also finished the gruelling two-week-long event.
Audi is the first car manufacturer to use a hybrid electric drivetrain in combination with an energy converter at the Dakar Rally.
At OTA, we’ve long reckoned that petrol hybrid 4WDs are best suited to Australia’s medium-term off-road driving needs, so it’s gratifying to see how well a hybrid machine can perform against world-class competition, headed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing.
The original Audi RS Q e-tron scored four stage wins in its debut at the Dakar Rally in 2022 and shortly thereafter won its first desert rally at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The second evolution of the Audi RS Q e-tron competed in the 2023 Dakar Rally, where Team Audi Sport had good individual results, but also experienced setbacks.
The second evolution was lighter, more aerodynamic and had improved electric drivetrain efficiency. The body was completely new and featured improved aerodynamics. It helped to lower the car’s weight and centre of gravity.
Wheel changing, following the inevitable punctures that occur on rocky terrain, was made much easier for the crew.
Ahead of the 2024 Dakar Rally, the car was further improved in many areas. Audi analysed the previous outings with the second evolution of the Audi RS Q e-tron, identified weak points and set clear priorities for further development.
Five key topics were concentrated on by the development team: safety, reliability, comfort, performance and maintenance times.
The Audi RS Q e-tron’s hybrid-electric system starts with a two-litre, four-cylinder turbo TFSI engine from the German Touring Car race series (DTM). It charges the high-voltage battery that powers the electric drive motors, via a motor-generator unit (MGU) from the Audi e-tron FE07 Formula E single-seat race car. In addition, energy is recuperated during braking.
Front and rear final dives are fitted with similar MGUs and only minor modifications had to be made to use these MGUs in the Dakar Rally.
The battery weighs about 370 kilograms and has a capacity of around 52 kWh.
|Audi RS Q e-tron¹
|Rally Raid Vehicle (Category T1U – alternative drivetrains²)
|Steel tube frame in combination with structural components in carbon/Zylon fiber composite
|All-wheel drive with electrically driven axles² (The Audi RS Q e-tron¹ combines an electric drivetrain with an energy converter system based on the TFSI engine and a generator)
|E-drivetrains² on the axles
|One Audi MGU05 from Formula E per axle
|Total system power under 286 kW (389 hp)
|One single-speed racing gearbox per axle
|High Voltage Battery System (HVBS), approx. 370 kg (wet), lithium-ion cells, usable battery capacity approx. 52 kWh, charging with max. 220 kW (299 hp) while driven through energy converter²
|2.0 liter four-cylinder turbo engine from the DTM coupled via a shaft with a generator (Audi MGU05 from Formula E) (The Audi RS Q e-tron¹ combines an electric drivetrain with an energy converter system based on the TFSI engine and a generator)
|BF Goodrich front/rear 37×12,5 R17
|4,670 / 2,300 / 1,950
Length / Width / Height (mm)
|2,100 kg without drivers
|Less than 4.5 seconds (on loose surface)
|Limited to max. 170 km/h