Is Audi just playing in the sand? Or can we expect to see some real-world application of rally tech in the future?
Last week, I was traveling when Audi released details on the latest version of its RS Q e-tron E2, which will eventually compete in the 2023 Dakar Rally. Due to the remote nature of the competitions it’s designed for, the electric off-roader uses an onboard internal-combustion engine as a generator to charge the batteries. It’s basically an entirely new machine from the version Ingolstadt entered last year, which made history by becoming the first electric-powered vehicle to take a stage victory.
Twist still comes from a dual motor setup, which features one at each axle. But revisions to the bodywork have improved the drag coefficient by a whopping 15 percent, and great pains were taken to reduce the overall weight of the rig, which was already north of the class minimum. Along with saving weight, the new carbon fiber fenders were also designed to help speed tire changes. Plus, engineers also made changes to the engine management and air conditioning systems to ensure no precious energy goes to waste.
Now, we’ll have to see how well the RS Q e-tron E2 does when it enters next month’s Morocco Rally. But looking at this beast of a machine made me wonder if this is the kind of set up we’re going to see on the activesphere concept Audi teased late last month. Because while I still believe the world doesn’t really need an Audi truck, the idea of an electric vehicle with rally-proven race technology is an attractive one indeed. And given the growing popularity of off-roading? It seems like it could prove a massive hit.
Another factor to consider is what exactly the point of the whole Dakar exercise is, if not to provide technology that will trickle down to the consumer market. After all, Audi was very clear that changing engine requirements, which included more robust electrification efforts and a focus on sustainability, were a key factor in why it will be entering Formula 1 for the 2026 season. But what do you think? Will the activesphere concept be a “road-going” version of the RS Q e-tron? Hit me up and let me know!