The future of alternative concepts is near, as manufacturers across the globe are racing to keep up with the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products. One market that has seen immense growth within this realm is the automobile industry.
Most commonly attributed to Tesla’s incorporation of the 100% electric vehicle into the market in the early 2000s, the automobile industry has seen a large uptick in competitively driven concepts designed to be efficient, aesthetic, and more sustainable.
Recently, Audi has announced their unique take on eco-conscious cars by breaking into the motor-sporting industry with their supposedly high-powered, durable, and slick-looking car made for entrance into the 2022 Dakar Rally.
A Welcoming Sight
The Dakar Rally is a rather popular off-roading motor-sporting event held annually by the Amaury Sport Organization. Originally the Rally was staged from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal. However, due to security issues, it was moved to South America and, most recently, Saudi Arabia, where the event is said to remain permanently.
The rally consists of multiple sections averaging roughly 500 miles per day of driving through various terrains such as dunes, camel grass, and rocks.
Considering the duration of the rally and the multitude of different terrains that must be crossed, creating an eco-friendlier vehicle to withstand these elements is not an easy feat. That said, the Audi RS Q e-tron is said to be able to not only overcome these obstacles but excel in providing a vehicle that matches its off-roading competitors.
The vehicle is said to contain a front and rear electric motor and a turbocharged 2.0-liter combustion engine modeled from DTM. The gas engine acts as a distance extender to generate excess energy and allow the vehicle to last for longer ranges. The RS Q e-tron has a drivetrain of 500kW -670 horsepower- and weighs in at nearly 4,500 pounds to comply with the 2022 Dakar Rally regulations. This allows for fairer and more even competition across the playing field.
Though the prototypes are still in the works, Audi has already successfully tested the vehicle on a trip through Germany in early July. This test will aid in the continued modifications and streamlining of the vehicle to assure its perfection in time for the 2022 rally.
That said, the RS Q e-tron isn’t Audi’s first integration into the sustainability market, as the company has been working behind the scenes in other areas of sustainability to assure a responsible supply chain, efficient vehicles, and corporate social responsibility. However, it wasn’t until recently that Audi announced its first all-electric SUV, the 2021 e-tron. The announcement of this launch has built so much anticipation that it was followed up by the news of its release into the South African market, a highly desirable and celebrated move.
Electric vehicles are touted to be an eco-friendlier option due to their lower overall environmental impact when compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. Though EV’s do have a rather intensive manufacturing process due to the batteries, copious life-cycle analyses’ done on the vehicles have determined that even with that taken into consideration, EV’s still have a much lower environmental impact than their counterpart. That said, Audi’s new design will introduce an alternative to the Dakar Rally geared toward the growing environmentally conscious crowd.
Audi Takes on Sustainability
Since its founding in 1899 by August Horch, Audi has notoriously become one of the most desirable brands in the industry. Renowned for its design, innovation, and comfort, the company has continued to see steady growth throughout the years. This, integrated with the industry push toward sustainable options, and Audi is yet again beginning to make a name for itself within the new sub-market.
The company’s core topics, operations & integrity, products & services, value creation & production, and employees & society, demonstrate a comprehensive understand of the three pillars of sustainability environment, social, and economics. By implementing their sustainable initiatives such as hybrid & electric vehicles and alternative energy across their supply chain, Audi reached a net savings of carbon dioxide in 2020 of roughly 165,000 metric tons.
The company is well along its way to lowering its environmental impact by 35% compared to their 2010 base year-converting 40% of its fleet to electric, and having all plants be completely carbon neutral by 2025.
Though some might argue the company isn’t doing as much as others, the steps they are taking are still significant and have the potential to make a difference both directly and indirectly. Further, the manufacturer's announcement of entrance into the motor-sporting industry can help encourage industry competition into the sustainability market. This can result in continued growth and movement toward a future where new sustainable technological advancements are being created therefore lowing the industry’s overall environmental footprint, resulting in cleaner air, less waste, and an overall healthier environment.