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Audi to unveil Dakar racer with electric drivetrain in July

Audi will compete in the Dakar Rally for the first time in January 2022 with a prototype featuring an advanced series-hybrid drivetrain (earlier post). Now, Audi reports that the concept of the innovative prototype has almost been concluded. The first tests are planned for the middle of the year.

The prototype uses the motor generator unit (MGU) from the current Formula E car that Audi developed from scratch for the 2021 season. Three motors will be used: one MGU on each axle, and the third to charge the high-voltage battery while driving.

Of course, we have to make modifications, because the desert has different challenges than in the cities where we are currently racing in Formula E: jumps, sand, the very long stages. But we can basically build on the expertise from Formula E and also from our Le Mans prototypes with the e-tron quattro.

—Andreas Roos, Head of DTM and Track Engineering for Audi Sport

Audi is also developing the high-voltage battery in-house. In Formula E, this is a spec part from a supplier for all of the teams. The energy for charging the battery is supplied by the four-cylinder TFSI engine from the DTM.

This engine is incredibly efficient and state of the art in terms of weight and consumption. The important thing is: our drivetrain is fully electric. The TFSI engine is only used to charge the batteries on the special stages. The battery has to be charged while driving, as there are currently no other options to do so in the desert.

—Andreas Roos

Audi plans to run fully electric on all the liaison stages.

The first prototype for the Dakar Rally is currently being built at Audi Sport in Neuburg an der Donau. The roll-out is scheduled for the end of June, followed by the world premiere in July. Afterwards, an intensive testing phase is planned before Audi’s first Dakar Rally in January 2022.

With the Dakar project, we at Audi remain true to our philosophy of using new technologies in motorsport for the first time that are groundbreaking for future road cars. In our rally history, for example, this was the quattro drivetrain, and now we will test components for future electric drivetrains under extreme conditions at the Dakar Rally. At the same time, we offer exciting customer and fan experiences.

—Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for all motorsport activities of Audi


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