The team faced sandstorms and scorching 100-degree heat.
In preparation for its competition debut at the 2022 Paris Dakar Rally, Audi has been busy torture testing the RS Q e-tron. To simulate the grueling conditions the team will face at the Paris Dakar next year, the electric rally monster was driven for 1,000 miles across unforgiving gravel roads in Spain. For its latest torture test, the RS Q e-tron was put through its paces for two weeks in the scorching Morocco desert.
All three of Audi's driver crews took part, including Dakar record winner Stephane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Mattias Ekstrom, who took it in turns to drive the electric rally SUV prototype across desert dunes. For the Morocco test, the cockpit was modified to increase the space and improve comfort, enabling the driver and co-driver to communicate more effectively.
During testing, the RS Q e-tron endured extreme temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Sandstorms also made the conditions even more challenging, pushing the electric SUV's components to the limit. Since the RS Q e-tron had not been tested in these conditions before, the high temperatures caused new problems the team was not anticipating that needed to be fixed, leading to interruptions.
"We expect much lower temperatures at the Dakar Rally," said Andreas Roos, responsible for factory motorsport projects at Audi Sport. "Nevertheless, we deliberately went to Morocco to test our concept under the most extreme conditions. Components such as the MGU, for example, were basically not developed for use in such high ambient temperatures, but the drivetrain and other components were also pushed to their limits or even beyond by the heat. The insights we gained in Morocco are invaluable, but they also show us that we still have a lot to do before the Dakar Rally and there is not much time left."
"It's all about optimum temperature management and being able to call up the battery's maximum performance," said Roos referring to the electric SUV's 50 kWh battery. "This is where we are learning with every test. And that's exactly why we are going to the desert with an electrified drivetrain: We are gaining an incredible amount of experience that we are sharing with our colleagues from road car development."
The RS Q e-tron also utilizes two electric motors from the e-tron FE07 Formula E car on each axle and a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four from an Audi DTM, which cats as a generator. Combined, this setup generates 670 horsepower, making it significantly more powerful than the 591-hp RS Q8 production SUV.