Three Formula E motors and a DTM engine combine in the Audi RS Q e-tron

Audi's DTM program—think the German equivalent of NASCAR—ended at the end of 2020, and 2021 is the German automaker's final year in Formula E. But the investment that Audi Sport made in both those programs will not go to waste, as aspects of each are combining to power an outrageous-looking machine designed to compete in the Dakar Rally. Unveiled online today, the car is called the Audi RS Q e-tron, and Audi says that campaigning it in one of the world's toughest off-road races will let the company test and develop its electric powertrains "under extreme conditions."

Although Audi's racing exploits have mostly taken place on the confines of race tracks for the last few decades, the brand has a strong link with rallying; it used the World Rally Championship in the 1980s to demonstrate its quattro all-wheel-drive technology. They might both involve rallying, but Dakar is a tougher challenge than the WRC, as it's contested over two weeks in remote places, with distances of 500 miles (800 km) a day.

"That's a very long distance," says Andreas Roos, who is responsible for the Dakar project at Audi Sport. "What we are trying to do has never been done before. This is the ultimate challenge for an electric drivetrain."

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