“It’s a really crazy idea,” is what Ralf Boss, Director of Special Vehicle Systems at ZF, thought when the hybrid drivetrain for the Dakar Rally was discussed for the first time. To install an electric motor to provide support in a rally car, and, on top of that, in a 1,000-horsepower off-road monster with all-wheel drive? And then to drive it across the desert?
“Admittedly, we had successfully implemented a similarly crazy idea for MKR Technology six years ago – in the form of a heavy-duty automatic powershift transmission. That was another reason why we wanted to take on the challenge.”
The ZF team was also curious to see how the necessary components would behave in such a harsh environment and what performance they could deliver when put to the test in an endurance race.
“As a matter of principle, we trust our technology,” Boss continues. “The most crucial point in the design process was the decision regarding which components to use and how best to combine them. What really made it a challenge was the targeted timeframe.”
Only about six months remained until Dakar. In motorsports, everything happens much faster than in standard volume production development. For this reason, it was necessary to seek support within ZF at an early stage. “The main reason we were able to keep to the schedule so well was because we were working together hand in hand across divisions, business areas, and organizations,” says Boss.