ZF and MKR Technology Reveal the World’s First Hybrid Drive for the Dakar Rally

ZF has developed a new hybrid driveline for the Dakar Rally. The CeTrax Lite RS electric drive gives the Riwald Dakar team’s all-wheel drive truck an additional 80 kW of cruising power, a peak performance of 201 bhp and 1400 Nm of torque. ZF, in cooperation with MKR Technology, has fitted the Riwald Dakar team’s Renault C640 with a new driveline developed especially for this objective. The core of this driveline is a special prototype of ZF’s central electric axle drive, reconfigured in terms of its hardware and software to make it fit for a rally. The final product is called CeTrax Lite ₹

CeTrax Lite RS supports the main diesel unit by providing an additional 1,400 Nm of torque. Developing a specific gear ratio proved to be a tough challenge. The 13,000 rpm asynchronous electric motor had to be adjusted to the 2,700 rpm that the 1,000 horsepower diesel engine produces at the transmission output. In addition to the electric motor, ZF also supplies integrated power electronics and the hybrid control unit, including the software that has been programmed specifically for the Dakar Rally. An automatic transmission from ZF is also installed in the driveline. This transmission funnels the horsepower from the diesel engine with utmost efficiency. Power from the combustion engine and e-unit enter the ZF transfer case converting the Renault truck into an all-wheel off-road vehicle.

CeTrax Lite RS supports the main diesel unit by providing an additional 1,400 Nm of torque

On test circuits in Poland, France and the Netherlands, the team was able to snatch a few seconds off their usual times. Besides the extra power, the time advantage is due the recuperation effect of the electric motor. This means that the brakes can be actuated later and harder, allowing the vehicle to be driven at its limit speed for longer. In addition, the 400 V battery can be recharged quickly while driving so that it can deliver another bout of massive torque by the next dune ahead.

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