The Audi RS Q e-tron is awaited with great curiosity at the Dakar bivouac. The House of the Rings enters the world of raids with the clear intention of revolutionizing its approach, aware that racing remains the best test bench for solutions that will be tested with a view to being used in the series product.
Audi has entered three electric-powered cars in the 44th edition of the most prestigious rally marathon and the arrival of the German brand is viewed with concern because in its sporting history the Ingolstadt house has never taken long to impose its revolutionary solutions ( all-wheel drive in rallies and hybrid in prototypes).
Audi RS Q e-tron
Photo by: Audi
There are three MGUs that … talk to each other
The new frontier is represented by the desert, the sand, the dunes. The Audi RS Q e-tron faces the Arab challenge with a car equipped with three electric motors: two MGUs (Motor Generator Units) are located in correspondence with each train, while the third unit acts as a generator to help recharge the battery. high voltage. The accumulator is replenished while on the move thanks to the action of a range extender, namely the four-cylinder TFSI derived from the DTM.
This engine will be used during the special tests exclusively to generate energy destined for the battery. This means that the transmission of the Audi RS Q e-tron is 100% electric.
Audi RS Q e-tron detail of the TSFI engine that is used to generate electricity
Photo by: Audi
The TSFI engine runs at constant speed
Carlos Sainz revealed a particularity of the car to us: “At the beginning of the tests it was not easy to get used to the internal combustion engine when it went into action to generate electricity, because it is not an engine at all related to the use of the accelerator. It is a unit that runs at a constant speed and feel it in the shot when maybe you are braking, I admit that it is a feeling you have to get used to ”.
The Audi engineers have developed an engine that is able to meet various needs: “I believe it works at a maximum speed of 6,500 rpm – continued Sainz -, but there are different electronic maps that allow you to use the engine according to the different need to recharge the energy “.
Carlos Sainz, Mattias Ekström, Stéphane Peterhansel, Audi RS Q e-tron
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Four kilometers of electrical cables
It should therefore come as no surprise that the software adopted and the electrical and electronic systems are the result of a long and complex work, so much so as to require two central control units and about four kilometers of cables in the car, without counting the elements of the high-voltage system.
The Audi RS Q e-tron can count on a maximum power of around 680 HP with an energy delivery that is managed according to the grip available on different terrains, even the most rugged.
If the high-voltage battery and the approx. 370 kg accumulator push the car beyond the regulatory minimum weight, it is right to remember that the car benefits from simplified mechanics compared to its rivals, since it can do without the gearbox and shaft. transmission in addition to the center differential. Not only that, but the electrical system allows you to vary the strategy for distributing traction between the front and rear in a few hundredths of a second.
Six different cooling systems
Considering the prohibitive climatic conditions in which the Dakar is raced, both the MGUs and the TFSI engine require a dedicated cooling circuit. This means that there are six thermal management systems in the car, including intercooler and passenger compartment conditioning.
The Audi engineering team is committed to ensuring maximum crew safety and the integrity of the Audi RS Q e-tron in all conditions. The passenger compartment consists of a tubular trellis frame which, by regulation, must be made of metal.
Audi RS Q e-tron detail of the front suspension and chassis
Photo by: Audi
Tubular frame with CFRP panels
Audi has opted for hot-formed, aerospace-derived, high-strength steel “alloyed” with elements of chromium, molybdenum and vanadium (CrMoV). The crews are protected by panels in CFRP, carbon mixed with thermoplastic polyurethane, which strengthen the frame. In several places there is an addition of Zylon which prevents the penetration of sharp and pointed objects and, at the same time, shields pilot and navigator from the high voltage system.
The seats are also in CFRP, the result of experiences in DTM and endurance. The only difference is the controlled deformation section in the shoulder area, imposed by the regulation. The shell structure is identical for all riders, while the high-density foam padding and pneumatic cushions are tailor-made.
The body is in CFRP, Kevlar or a mix of the two materials, in some cases with a honeycomb structure. The windshield, derived from Audi A4, is in laminated glass with a special anti-scratch treatment, while the side windows are in polycarbonate, to the advantage of lightness.
Audi RS Q e-tron
Photo by: Audi
The battery is closed in a “suitcase”
The centrally located high-voltage battery is encapsulated in a CFRP and Zylon “suitcase”. The underbody is equipped with the classic aluminum plate which is accompanied by a layer of highly absorbing foam and, to further defend the accumulator and the fuel tank, there is a sandwich structure in CFRP.
On the one hand, the latter is called to dissipate the contact energy propagated through the plate and the foam, on the other hand, once a critical threshold is exceeded, it is designed to deform in a controlled way to protect the accumulator. The entire “plate group”, 54 mm thick, derives from the WEC World Championship and can be quickly replaced during the elevations at the bivouac at the end of the stage.
There is a security ISO monitor
To complete the Audi RS Q e-tron high-voltage system protection concept, the manufacturer of the four rings adopts an ISO monitor, derived from the LMP (Le Mans Prototype), to monitor any voltage fluctuations. If an accident occurs and an overshoot kinetic load is detected, the entire system shuts down. At the same time, an acoustic signal and some warning lights along the bodywork communicate the state of danger to the rescuers.
Although the Dakar develops mainly in the desert, the powertrain is shielded from the water, to be able to face the fords. And if a fire breaks out, the extinguishing system uses an electrically inert agent.
In short, the design and development of the Audi RS Q e-tron did not seek only performance in the desert, but had to face and solve all the problems of an electric car that will be used in extreme climatic conditions.
The challenge fascinates the three crews made up of Peterhansel – Boulanger, Sainz – Cruz and Ekstroem – Bergkvist because Audi’s descent into the field has caused a lot of agitation to the competitors…
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