In December 2021, Audi Sport, the sports division of the German manufacturer, created a sensation with the RS Q e-tron, a hybrid buggy equipped with an electric motor (680 hp, limited to 400 hp by the regulations) and a generator petrol to recharge the batteries.
This buggy engaged in the mythical Paris-Dakar rally-raid event (but taking place in the Saudi desert) had shown excellent behavior, despite a lack of speed and fragile suspensions. Carlos Sainz’s crew had won two out of 12 and had been able to finish in the top three over seven stages. For a first, this Audi buggy came out of it honorably and gave a glimpse of a good sequel.
Audi Sport has therefore gone back to work with a new RS Q e-tron E2 announced to be more efficient, without the motorization changing. The biggest change concerns the bodywork where all superfluous elements have been removed, especially on the rear part. The final style evolves with a silhouette very inspired by manta rays.
The engineers thus gained 15% on the car’s aerodynamics. As a result, the buggy weighs 2.1 t (compared to 2 t in 2021) without the pilots, i.e. the new minimum weight imposed by the regulations for an electric rally vehicle. A handicap having the gift of annoying Édouard Boulanger, the co-driver engineer of Stéphane Peterhansel, who does not understand this penalty imposed while the future of motorsport tends towards electrification.
On the motorization side, no big change since the manufacturer has kept the same two electric motors from Formula E and positioned on each axle. As for the generator, it is a 2 l turbo engine from the DTM championship, responsible for supplying the battery with a capacity of 52 kWh and weighing 370 kg. Total power is 288 kW (392 hp) for a top speed of 170 km/h. A hybrid-series assembly, therefore, that we find at Nissan and Honda.
The heat engine does not drive the wheels, but the generator (MGU) used to recharge a high voltage lithium-ion battery (800 V) weighing 370 kg. This powers the two electric motors (MGU) positioned on each axle, not connected to each other as on a conventional electric vehicle. It’s in-house software — fully configurable — that “takes over the distribution of torque between the axles and thus creates a virtual center differential”.
Improved climate control and expanded task automation
The other big change occurs at the level of the cockpit, which takes volume, but whose access requires flexibility. It is not Stéphane Peterhansel, 14 times winner of the Dakar (car and motorcycle), who will tell you the opposite. This new cabin now benefits from air conditioning with three vents, one of which cools the backs of the pilot and co-pilot.
Finally, the software part has been reviewed and improved following the accumulation of data collected during the two previous rallies. Now, many tasks have been automated, allowing drivers to focus solely on the wheel.
Next stage the Morocco Rally
Nothing beats the field test to verify all these technical contributions. Thus, at the beginning of October, the Morocco rally will take place, the antechamber of the Dakar, where the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 buggy will be present with its three crews: Stéphane Peterhansel / Édouard Boulanger, Mattias Ekström / Emil Bergkvist and Carlos Sainz / Lucas Cruz. Then, head to Saudi Arabia at the end of 2022, where the adventure began.