Audi RS Q e-tron

Lighter, more aerodynamic and even more efficient

In March 2022, the Audi RS Q e-tron won its first desert rally in Abu Dhabi, and now the next evolution is ready. The innovative prototype presents itself significantly improved for the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Take a look below to see the journey the RS Q e-tron has been on throughout 2023 in preparation for the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Audi RS Q e-tron updates for 2024

Audi has enhanced the RS Q e-tron for its third Dakar Rally appearance, introducing innovations across various aspects. The rally prototype, featuring a groundbreaking electric drivetrain, high-voltage battery, and energy converter, now offers improvements making it safer, more reliable, and slightly lighter. The Audi driver crews, including Mattius Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger, and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, will benefit from these changes in January 2024, experiencing increased comfort and shorter maintenance times for the team.


Dakar test France, November 2023

In preparation for the 2024 Dakar Rally, Team Audi Sport conducted the final test for the Audi RS Q e-tron in the south of France. The three Audi driver crews, comprising Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz., performed last-minute fine-tuning during the five-day test at Château de Lastours. With a focus on enhancing component endurance, the teams covered a distance exceeding 900km. Rolf Michl, Head of Audi Motorsport, expressed satisfaction with the development tasks accomplished and emphasised the team's readiness for the Dakar Rally in January, acknowledging the challenging nature of the event


Morocco Rally, October 2023

The Audi RS Q e-tron showcased its competitiveness at the Morocco Rally, securing three stage victories with its innovative electric drive, high-voltage battery, and energy converter. Despite encountering setbacks in the first half of the rally, including two punctures that temporarily placed Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger in fourth position, they made a remarkable comeback. Winning the penultimate stage and closing the gap to the leaders within 3 minutes and 49 seconds, the duo positioned themselves for a podium chance. Unfortunately on the last day, damage to a water pump forced them to withdraw from the race for overall victory, ultimately finishing 47th place.


Baja Aragón, Spain, July 2023

In the Baja España Aragón 2023, Team Audi Sport participated for the first time, marking the beginning of a six month preparation for the 2024 Dakar Rally. Although competing outside the classification, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz completed the race in the Audi RS Q e-tron. However, Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist retired due to damage to the power steering pump caused by a water crossing. Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger's race concluded prematurely due to a faulty sensor affecting the electric drive.


Dakar Rally, January 2023

Team Audi Sport's dedication paid off in the 2023 Dakar Rally, showcasing innovation and performance despite facing various challenges. The Audi RS Q e-tron, featuring its electric drive concept, secured an impressive 14 podium results out of 15 event days, including the prologue. The Audi drivers led the rally in Saudi Arabia with the prototype for three days, marking an significant achievement. However setbacks such as punctures, accident-related retirements of Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz and Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger, along with substantial time loss for Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, limited the team to a 14th-place finish.


More information on the RS Q e-tron

Even more environmentally friendly: optimized energy management

The electric drivetrain of the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 comprises an energy converter consisting of an internal combustion engine and a generator, as well as a high-voltage battery and the two electric motors on the front and rear axles. Energy management plays a crucial role here. The electronic control system of the complex electric drivetrain proved its worth in the first rally events. Challenges only arose in extreme cases. At the Dakar Rally, for example, Audi noted short-term surpluses of power in situations where the wheels made less contact with the ground while jumping or on uneven terrain. The officials of the FIA, the world automobile federation, intervene at a threshold of 2 kilojoules of excess energy and impose sporting penalties. “By way of comparison, more than one hundred times the amount of energy flows to the motors per second within the permissible limits,” says Florian Semlinger, development engineer for embedded software, application and test bench. “We could have made it easy on ourselves and set our threshold several kilowatts lower, but that would have meant performance disadvantages. Instead, we put a lot of fine-tuning into the power controllers.” Two individual limits – one for each motor – are now recalculated by the software within milliseconds. As a result, it operates precisely along the permissible limit.

The so-called auxiliary consumers also benefit from optimized control. The servo pump, the air-conditioning cooling pump and the fans have a measurable impact on the energy balance. In the course of the debut season in 2022, the Audi and Q Motorsport rally team gained valuable experience that enables better assessment. Take the air-conditioning system, for example: It works so aggressively that it could cause the coolant to freeze when constantly running at its maximum output. In the future, the system will run in an intermittent mode. This saves energy, yet the interior temperatures only fluctuate slightly, even over longer periods. The operating strategy for the fans and the servo pump has also been optimized. For example, the systems can now be regulated differently for the lower loads on the liaison stages than on the special stages.

E1 & E2 Comparison

“We have combined all the important lessons in a very short time. The result of our ideas is the E2 evolution,” says Uwe Breuling, Head of Vehicle Operations Audi Sport. “Our development team’s determined and cost-efficient work has prepared us perfectly for our second Dakar Rally.”

Simplified operation: Ease of use in the cockpit and when changing wheels

The Audi drivers Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz can look forward to their new workplaces. The displays are still in the driver’s field of view and located in the center console in the usual style, and the central switch panel with its 24 fields has also been retained. However, the engineers have restructured the displays and controls. “The totality of all the functions quickly creates confusion,” says Florian Semlinger. “That’s why, for the first time, the driver and co-driver can now select from four system areas using a rotary switch.” The “Stage” theme contains all the functions that are important while driving competitively – such as the speed limiter in sections with speed limits or the air jack. The “Road” part contains, for example, turn signals and the rear-view camera, functions that are often in demand on the liaison stages. The “Error” option is used to detect, categorize and catalog errors. The “Settings” section includes everything that is useful for the engineering team during testing or after the car arrives at the bivouac, for example, detailed temperatures of individual systems.

Crews can now work much more easily after a puncture. Simple, flat and easily removable body components replace the previous bulky covers for the spare wheels in the flanks. The new ten-spoke rims from partner Rotiform are much easier to handle. Drivers and co-drivers can grip them more easily and complete the change more safely. 

“We have combined all the important lessons in a very short time. The result of our ideas is the E2 evolution,” says Uwe Breuling, Head of Vehicle Operations Audi Sport. “Our development team’s determined and cost-efficient work has prepared us perfectly for our second Dakar Rally.”

Following initial testing led by Arnau Niubó Bosch, Head of Test Engineering, Audi Sport unveiled the RS Q e-tron E2 in Neuburg an der Donau on September 1. From October 1 to 6, the new technology will have to prove itself in competition for the first time at the Rally du Maroc. All three Audi driver pairings will then contest the desert rally that begins and finishes in Agadir, in the southwest of the North African country.