Audi RS Q e-tron Makes History at Dakar 2022

Audi RS Q e-tron Dakar 2022

Victory of Stage 3 of Dakar 2022 marks the first time a hybrid vehicle has triumphed at the legendary rally.

The 2022 Dakar Rally hasn’t gone exactly as planned for Audi Sport. But while the race is only about half over, the team has already made history. Because four days into the race, driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz brought their RS Q e-tron in ahead of all the competition. That marked the first time that a hybrid-electric car has won a stage during the legendarily grueling test of man and machine. Make no mistake — this isn’t just a watershed moment for Audi, or the Dakar, but the world of racing as a whole.

To be clear, the RS Q e-tron isn’t a fully electric vehicle, as it features a small internal combustion motor to charge the batteries when plugging in would prove impossible. That said, given the resources that Audi is dedicating toward electric development, and the pace at which battery technology is developing, an all-electric Dakar rig might not be all that far off. So don’t be surprised if you see Dakar veteran and Audi partner Ken Block behind the wheel of a green machine in the next few years.

Unfortunately, an overall victory in 2022 isn’t in the cards. On the first stage, Audi driver and 14-time Dakar champ Stéphane Peterhansel hit a rock which took out not only one of his wheels, but a decent chuck of the rear suspension. While that’s the kind of thing that can happen when you’re racing for 5,000 miles through the desert, the time spent sitting on the trail means the time off the lead will be all but impossible to overcome.

More frustrating than the crash, however, was a confusing roadbook that left his teammates Sainz and Cruz lost for a whopping two hours. In fairness, they weren’t the only car that wound up off the course, but since Audi declined to file a grievance with race control, the standings will reflect the unfortunate detour. That said? While it would have been amazing to win overall on the e-tron’s first effort, it was always a longshot, and Audi will undoubtedly learn plenty about its innovative powertrain over the course of the race.

Photos: Audi

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Ken Block Reveals Elektrikhana Hero Car

Elektrikhana Hero Car Hoonitron

This reimagined version of the quattro S1 isn’t just the star of the forthcoming Elektrikhana video — it also meets FIA safety standards.

When Ken Block and Audi announced a partnership to develop electric vehicles back in September, there weren’t a lot of details on what to expect. But as I wrote at the time, anyone with a wisp of automotive awareness and more than two brain cells to rub together could predict the endeavor would produce some killer videos. That speculation, as un-wild as it might have been, was confirmed roughly a week later, when Block teased Electrickhanaa electrified version of his internet-breaking Gymkhana videos.

Now, we’ve gotten a look at the hero car — and it’s reimagined version of the legendary Audi Sport quattro S1. Dubbed the Hooniteron, this beast will sport a carbon fiber chassis, an electric motor at each axel, and lust-inspiring bodywork that looks at once both evolutionary and futuristic.  The name is a mash-up of Hoonigan and e-tron, and as Audi design chief Marc Lichte describes,  “the project was about about creating a modern, all-electric interpretation of the S1 Pikes Peak.”

If that doesn’t sound challenging enough? There was almost no time allotted to get it done. “While our design process normally takes one to one-and-a-half years, we only had four weeks from the first drawing to the final design,” said Lichte.

At this point, there aren’t a lot of details on the performance metrics, but according to the press release, the Hoonitron meets FIA safety standards, and is described as having “power galore.” Fortunately, Block was able to translate what that intriguing bit of info about the thrust level means when you’re behind the wheel:

Audi gave me the opportunity to test it for a few days in Germany. I’m familiar with a wide variety of cars using internal combustion engines and transmissions, but there were a lot of new things for me to learn here. Spinning into a donut at 150 km/h directly from standstill — just using my right foot — is an all-new experience for me. Our work was focused on getting the car and I used to each other.

How long it took Hoonigan-in-Chief Block to adapt to the instant torque of the electric powertrain is something we’ll likely learn in the future. In the meantime, the announcement says that fans can expect to see the new Elektrikhana video “shortly,” and released a teaser video to whet our appetites. Personally, I’m thrilled that this machine is up to snuff for the FIA, as after Block uses it to make the donuts, it’d be amazing to see it tackle Pikes Peak. Since the electric powertrain is immune to the challenges of high elevation hooning, it sure would prove advantageous in a record run…

Image Source: Audi

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Confirmed: Current Audi e-tron Will be Replaced by Q8 e-tron

Audi Q8 e-tron

The follow up to the e-tron will arrive in 2026, and be a larger SUV which will replace the current Audi Q8.

Audi’s facility in Brussels, Belgium will produce the successor to the current e-tron, the company has confirmed. The Audi Forest plant recently celebrated the production of its eight millionth vehicle, and this news means the workforce there will still have a mission after production of the e-tron, which is due for a refresh in 2023, concludes in 2026. In a statement reported by Belgium’s RTL Info, Audi AG Board of Directors Chair Markus Duesmann revealed that the replacement for the e-tron will be the Q8 e-tron:

The future will be electric. Our factory in Forest is carbon neutral. And when we deliver a new vehicle, it is with a ‘zero emissions’ perspective. Based on this experience, the next car produced here will be the Audi Q8 e-tron, the electric successor to the current e-tron. This choice can be explained by the current success. 

That news means that the current generation of the Q8 will be the last with internal combustion engines, as Audi previously announced that all of its new vehicles will be all-electric starting in 2026. Along with the standard body style, it’s expected that there will be also be Q8 Sportback e-tron, and fans of high performance SUVs will likely get an RS-like version as well.  With legendary rally driver and gymkhana master Ken Block on board to aid in electric vehicle development, it’s unlikely that any of the new green machines will be boring.

Given the rapidly approaching deadline for the end of gas and diesel powertrains, we’re likely to see a lot of news about electric vehicles coming out of Ingolstadt in the coming months, especially since there are reportedly 20 new machines on the horizon. That said, fans of luxury longroofs are likely most excited about the possibility of an RS6 Avant e-tron. Because while the current gas-powered version is a weapons-grade piece of kit, we’ve already seen how it performs against Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S, and it’s unlikely that engineers will step backward for the next generation. Stay tuned for more news about Audi’s electric future when we have it!

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Audi RS6 Avant e-tron Might Debut in 2023

Audi RS6 Avant e-tron Might Debut in 2023

Audi might introduce the RS6 Avant e-tron at the same time as the upcoming A6 e-tron electric sedan.

Earlier in March, Audi announced that it will no longer develop IC engines. Since then, the pace of Audi’s electrification strategy has skyrocketed. Most recently, the Ingolstadt automaker’s all-new 2022 Audi A3 made its stateside debut with a standard MHEV variant. Now, according to a recent Autocar report, the German car manufacturer might soon introduce an all-electric Audi RS6.

Right now, the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT are the only performance electric models in Audi’s arsenal. According to the report, the Audi Sport division is also transitioning into the electric-only future along with the automaker. As a result of this, the company is developing an all-electric performance estate model. The alleged offering might take on the Audi RS6 Avant e-tron moniker.

Back in April, Audi unveiled its A6 e-tron concept. Autocar claims that Audi bosses have almost confirmed that this concept will also lay the foundation for an electric estate version. The report also claims that Audi might launch both offerings at the same time, which means we can expect the battery-electric Audi RS6 Avant e-tron to make its global debut as early as 2023.

Audi RS6 Avant e-tron Might Debut in 2023

Audi RS e-tron GT quattro’s 590 HP and 612 lb-ft all-electric drivetrain might propel the RS6 Avant e-tron

It is also possible that RS6 Avant e-tron and A6 e-tron might share Volkswagen Group’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE) vehicle architecture. The automaker is collaborating with Porsche to develop VW’s premium EV platform. So far, we do not have any information regarding the performance figures of the upcoming estate.

If Audi decides to use RS e-tron GT quattro’s powertrain to propel the RS6 Avant e-tron, then the electric estate might get a 93 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Furthermore, the RS6 Avant e-tron might also get a dual synchronous electric motor setup with a maximum power output of 590 HP (637 HP in boost mode) and 612 lb-ft of peak torque.

Audi wants its electrified product portfolio to be responsible for 40% of its global sales volume by 2025. The automaker will introduce 30 electrified offerings by 2025, out of which 20 models will be battery-only products. The German company will also introduce its final internal combustion model in five years. At the same time, Audi America wants one-third of its portfolio to have some level of electrification.

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Report Says Audi A2 Could Return as an EV

Audi AI:ME

Audi’s AI:ME concept would make a perfect platform for a new A2, and could be a gateway to electric luxury.

The future of automobiles is electric — an Audi is quite clearly leaning into the shift. The e-tron GT is a stunning example of electric luxury, the RS Q e-tron is set to take on the Dakar Rally, and Ingolstadt even recruited Ken Block to help with EV development. But since all new Audi vehicles are set to be electric starting in 2026, there are still loads more green machines on the way, and Germany’s Auto Bild magazine is reporting that we just might see an all-new version of the A2.

At this point, there’s been no confirmation of such plans, though if you stop to consider it, the idea makes a lot of sense. Because while we all know luxury cars and SUVs are the industry’s cash cows, plenty of upscale buyers in urban markets — where electric vehicles currently make the most sense — are looking for something easy to pilot on tight city streets. So an electric hatchback with a small footprint could be ideal. That said, for said car to really resonate, it would have to look the business.

That’s where the AI:ME concept comes into play. When it debuted back in 2019, it was billed as a design study, and a platform for the automated driving technology of the future. Now, regardless of what folks like Elon Musk would like folks to believe, full-on autonomous driving is still a ways off. But there’s no reason that Audi couldn’t turn this concept into reality, and position it toward the bottom of the lineup. In that respect, it could serve as kind of a gateway drug for luxurious electric cars.

For the record, I don’t think range would be terribly important here. In that respect, I agree with Audi CEO Markus Duesmann, who believes that in the future, the range of electric cars will go down, as many people — particularly those in urban centers — come to grips with how little they actually drive. So presence, posh cabins, and great tech would be the most important features for a city car. And honestly, given the increasing attention people of all stripes are paying to climate change, I think we’re overdue for a backlash against massive SUVs. So stay tuned for news on a possible new Audi A2!

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