After a dismal first participation last year in the Dakar Rally, Audi returns with an electric car (or almost) “considerably improved”, especially in terms of aerodynamics.
At the beginning of the year, Audi had registered three electric cars on the occasion of the Dakar, which, as the name does not indicate, takes place in Saudi Arabia. These three cars, driven by Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekström, could have been more successful, but racing events and incidents dictated otherwise. The rings firm, however, won four stages, but their best car was only ninth in the final overall standings.
Next year, during the 2023 edition, Audi aims to do better in the Dakar. And for the occasion, the German company has just presented a new prototype which is technically very much based on the old one, but with profound improvements. As you surely know, if you follow motorsport diligently, a number of regulations restrict manufacturers. So the engineers at Audi Sport had to deal with it as they tried to significantly improve their car.
A wider, less heavy car for more aerodynamics
Thus, Audi announces that it has revised the interior dimensions with a much wider cockpit, new front and rear hoods and the elimination of the passage under the rear hood to the left and right of the B-pillars. Engineers have restructured all display systems. and controls, including a new switch to select between four “system zones” that provide access to different driving modes.
With weight being the enemy in competition, engineers also reduced the machine’s weight by adding layers of composite materials. While the minimum weight for the alternative fuel T1U class was increased from 2,000kg to 2,100kg, last year’s Audi was clearly above that weight, so the Ingolstadt-based company sought to reduce the weight of “several tens of kilos”without specifying the exact value.
There were many aesthetic changes compared to the previous model. Changes that have a function as they should improve aerodynamics. The Audi RS Q e-tron E2 is 4.67 meters long, 2.30 meters high and 1.95 meters wide, approximately 17 centimeters wider than the previous version.
The brand claims that aerodynamic drag has been reduced by approximately 15%while the maximum speed remains limited to 170 km/h. Audi advertises that this significantly reduces the car’s energy needs, making it more efficient. And precisely, what is hidden under the hood?
Three electric motors and one gasoline unit
The same power train as the previous model, that is, an interesting engine that we would call a hybrid and that is divided into several elements. On the one hand is the MGU05 electric motor used in Formula E (250 kW or 340 hp and 33 kg) which is located above the front axle. This engine is powered by a lithium-ion battery consisting of 13 modules and 266 cells, each developing a capacity of 52 kWh. This battery weighs 375 kg.
We found a huge 295 liter fuel tank that powers the “generator” as we could call it (or range extender, as in the old BMW i3 REx) very useful during the long Dakar stages), i.e. a 2.0 liter of four-cylinder TFSI gasoline engine that is connected to the second electric motor to recharge the battery and recover braking energy. Finally, a third electrical block drives the rear wheels and is not mechanically connected to the front axle. in total, the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 develops 386 hp with all-wheel drive.
A reduction in consumption
Always with the aim of reducing energy consumption, Audi has revised the internal software with better power control, especially when the car is on rough terrain and where it spends a lot of time with the wheels in the air, without needing power for this. precise moment.
In the same philosophy, auxiliary devices also benefit from optimized control, such as the air conditioning, for example, which starts to work intermittently. Earlier this year, Audi engineers discovered that overuse of the air conditioning could cause the coolant to freeze.
The Audi RS Q e-tron E2 will make its competitive debut at the Rallye du Maroc in Morocco from 1er the 6th of October. But his biggest challenge will obviously be the famous 2023 Dakar Rally, which will start in Saudi Arabia on December 31 and end 15 days later.
Towards a 100% electric car?
When will a 100% electric car cover the Dakar Rally? Advances in the field should allow this type of competition, especially with the arrival of new batteries, such as the Chinese car Zeekr 001 with 1,000 km of autonomy in the CLTC cycle, which will arrive next year. Or with future solid batteries. It is still necessary for the charging infrastructure to be present in the regions covered.
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