Audi taking range-extender EV to desert
Headed to Le Mans with LMPh prototype
Audi is headed to one of the most challenging off-road rallies in the world. And they’re doing it with an electric powertrain. Audi will be back at Dakar for 2022 and they’re adding a whole new set of challenges to the notorious event.
While they’re dropping factory support for the fully-electric Formula E racing series, where they have run since 2014, the Dakar Rally plan is even more ambitious. It also takes the company back to the quattro models that took over rallying starting in 1981.
The Dakar Rally Audi will get all of its power to the wheels via an electric drivetrain including what we expect will be a pair of electric motors. The venue for the event has yet to be announced, but it will likely be held in Saudi Arabia as it was this year and is expected next year. The event moved to that country after 11 years in South America.
With this year’s rally having a 7,900 km total distance, electric only isn’t really an option. So the Audi will have a TFSI engine equipped that the manufacturer calls “an energy converter.” We’d call it a range extender. Or just a hybrid, but this sounds more advanced than your usual hybrid driveline.
Audi dropped out of Le Mans racing recently, and that came with a worry that the automaker would reduce its presence in motorsport. “A multifaceted commitment to motorsport is and will remain an integral part of Audi’s strategy,” says Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management and Board of Management Member for Technical Development and Product Lines at AUDI AG. “We want to continue demonstrating the brand’s slogan ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ in international top-level motorsport in the future and develop innovative technologies for our road cars.”
The company is still looking at other international motorsports, and that includes a possible return to Le Mans with the new LMDh sports prototype hybrid category.