Audi has announced it is ready to kick up a dust storm, quite literally, and will take part in the famous - and challenging - Dakar Rally in 2022 for the first time. The company states that it will compete with an 'innovative prototype' and that it will make use of a high-voltage battery. This is a strong indication that the German luxury car maker will unleash an electric SUV in the cross-country event.
Audi has confirmed that the alternative drive concept combines an electric drivetrain with a high-voltage battery and a highly efficient energy converter for the first time. It is attempting to showcase how the crown in an event like Dakar Rally can be fought for using technology that is expected to be common in the near future. "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," said Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management and Board of Management Member for Technical Development and Product Lines at AUDI AG. "The toughest rally in the world is the perfect stage for this. A multifaceted commitment to motorsport is and will remain an integral part of Audi’s strategy."
Audi has been closely associated with motorsports for several decades but the move to enter the Dakar Rally also means that it is parting ways, for the time being at least, with Formula E. The Dakar Rally will replace Audi’s factory involvement in Formula E, which will no longer be continued in the form of an Audi factory team after the 2021 season. The use of the newly developed Audi powertrain by customer teams will remain possible beyond next year.
The cross-country event would, however, bring about its own set of challenges.
With the use of an alternative drive concept in the Dakar Rally, Audi is now facing up to the most extreme conditions. The vehicle will be driven by a powerful electric drivetrain. The energy required for this comes from a high-voltage battery, which can be charged as required while driving via an energy converter in the form of a highly efficient TFSI engine. The aim is to permanently improve the performance of the electric drivetrain and the battery in the years to come. The experience gained in this process should then be incorporated into the further development of future electrified production models.