Audi had the only hybrid on the Dakar. Here’s what happened


Audi wanted to claim the first victory in its Dakar history with the RS Q e-tron 2. The legendary rally-raid has just ended after two weeks spent in the dunes in Saudi Arabia. In the general classification, the 4×4 hybrid did no better than tenth place, more than seven hours behind the Toyota of the winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah. A sporting failure that nevertheless hides great innovations made by the manufacturer in the desert.

Audi at the Dakar: testing in extreme conditions

A true rolling laboratory, the RS Q e-tron 2 has an electric transmission system, a world first. With its two motors (MGU) placed on the front and rear axles, the car is more manoeuvrable and gets stuck less than its competitors.

Still with the aim of making each wheel autonomous, Audi has developed a virtual differential device. Very precise, it provides perfect power distribution at all times. During the Dakar, these innovations enabled drivers Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz to take the top positions before they were forced to retire.

Mattias Ekström, the third man behind the wheel for Audi, finished the last two stages of the Dakar on the podium, demonstrating the full potential of his machine.

audi dakar

With its futuristic design, the RS Q e-tron 2 was the attraction of this 2023 edition of the Dakar © Audi

But it is outside the dunes that these technologies could become essential. Through this RS Q e-tron 2, the brand with the rings wants to advance the automobile for the general public. Stephan Dreyer, head of development at Audi Sport, is particularly proud of his on-board battery.

A “proprietary innovation” for Audi which allows it to be the only manufacturer bringing hybrid prototypes to the Dakar. Weighing 370 kilograms for 50 kWh, it recharges automatically during braking phases. A derivative version could arrive on production models in the coming years.

From the Dakar to the road

Its reduced weight (compared to the batteries of a Tesla are 450kg) and its storage capacity make it an argument of choice for the brand’s electric cars. Installed in one of them, this battery could greatly increase the vehicle’s range.

MGU engines could quickly become a mandatory technology for all “franchisor” models within a few years. They have already managed to get Audi drivers out of the sand of the desert, so they will be a great help for the general public when driving in snow or in difficult conditions.

While waiting to see technologies from the RS Q e-tron 2 on our roads, the German manufacturer hopes to return to the Dakar and win in the dunes in 2024. A certain Sebastien Loeb, second in this 2023 edition, could join to the adventure.

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