ZF partners MKR Technology to reveal new hybrid driveline at 2020 Dakar Rally

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 03 Jan 2020

ZF, in cooperation with MKR Technology, has fitted the Riwald Dakar team's Renault C640 with a new driveline developed especially for the 42nd Dakar Rally to be held from January 5 at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It is claimed to be the first-ever hybrid-powered off-road truck in the Dakar Rally.

ZF has revealed that 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 RS. The truck supports the main diesel unit by providing an additional 1,400 Nm of torque, a cruising power of 80 kW and a peak output of 150 kW. ZF claims that the challenge was in the development of specific gear ratios. The 13,000 rpm asynchronous electric motor had to be adjusted to the 2,700 rpm that the 1,000 HP 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.

ZF electric hybrid driveline for Renault truck at Dakar Rally

CeTrax Lite RS from ZF supplies an additional 1,400 Nm of torque, a cruising power of 80 kW and an electric peak output of 150 kW to the driveline.

Ralf Boss, Director of Special Vehicle Systems at ZF said, “The extreme conditions of the Dakar Rally – lots of sand and rough terrain – offer us a unique and amazing opportunity to subject our hybrid driveline to the ultimate acid test.”

The Riwald Dakar Team and their driver Gert Huzink are the only participants entering Dakar 2020 with a hybrid electric vehicle. The racing team claims that the initial tests have unveiled its high potential of showcasing a good show at the rally this year. The team has confirmed that the new hybrid truck was able to snatch a few seconds off their usual times, which ZF attributes to 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. 

Mario Kress, Chief Designer and owner of MKR Technology said, “We're excited about how quickly and effectively the CeTrax Lite RS boosts the truck’s performance.” 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.