In December 2021, Audi Sport, the sports division of the German manufacturer, caused a sensation with the RS Q e-tron, a hybrid buggy equipped with an electric motor (680 hp, limited to 400 hp by regulations) and a gasoline generator for recharging. the batteries.
This buggy involved in the mythical Paris-Dakar rally-raid (but taking place in the Saudi desert) showed excellent behavior, despite the lack of speed and fragile suspensions. Carlos Sainz’s crew won two of the 12 stages and managed to finish in the top three in seven stages. For the first time, this Audi buggy came out with honor and gave a glimpse of a good sequel.
Audi Sport therefore returned to work with a new RS Q e-tron E2 announced as more efficient, without changing the engine. The biggest change concerns the bodywork, where all superfluous elements have been removed, particularly at the rear. The final style evolves with a silhouette very inspired by stingrays.
The engineers thus gained 15% on the aerodynamics of the car. As a result, the buggy weighs 2.1 t (against 2 t in 2021) without the drivers, i.e. the new minimum weight imposed by regulations for an electric rally vehicle. A disadvantage with the gift of bothering Édouard Boulanger, the engineer co-driver of Stéphane Peterhansel, who does not understand this penalty imposed while the future of motorsport tends towards electrification.
On the engine side, no major changes, as the manufacturer has kept the same two Formula E electric motors positioned on each axle. As for the generator, it is a 2 l turbocharged engine from the DTM championship, responsible for supplying the battery with a capacity of 52 kWh and a weight of 370 kg. Total power is 288 kW (392 hp) for a top speed of 170 km/h. A hybrid series set, therefore, that we find in Nissan and Honda.
The thermal engine does not drive the wheels, but the generator (MGU) used to recharge a high voltage (800 V) lithium-ion battery weighing 370 kg. This powers the two electric motors (MGU) positioned on each axle, not connected together as in a conventional electric vehicle. It’s internal software — fully configurable — that “assumes 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 requires volume, but whose access requires flexibility. It is not Stéphane Peterhansel, 14 times winner of the Dakar (car and motorcycle), who will tell you otherwise. This new cabin is now air-conditioned with three air vents, one of which cools the backs of the pilot and co-pilot.
Finally, the software part was revised and improved after the accumulation of data collected during the two previous rallies. Now, many tasks have been automated, allowing drivers to focus solely on the steering wheel.
Next stage the Morocco Rally
Nothing beats field testing 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 in late 2022, where the adventure began.