Audi has announced it plans to take part in the Dakar Rally in 2022 with an “innovative prototype”.

The Ingolstadt-based firm says cross-country rallying will be the “spearhead” of its factory motorsport commitment going forward, with the factory team poised to quit Formula E after the 2021 season.

Of course, the German firm is no stranger to the broader sport of rallying, though it is the first automaker that has committed to developing a “viable alternative drive concept” for Dakar.

The as-yet-unrevealed Dakar contender is described as an “alternative drive concept” that combines an electric drivetrain with a high-voltage battery and a “highly efficient energy converter”.

The vehicle will draw its urge from a “powerful electric drivetrain”. Audi says the energy required for this will come from a high-voltage battery, which can be “charged as required while driving via an energy converter in the form of a highly efficient TFSI engine”.

According to the firm, the aim is to “permanently improve the performance of the electric drivetrain and the battery in the years to come”. The experience gained in this process would in theory be incorporated into the “further development of future electrified production models”.

“A multifaceted commitment to motorsport is and will remain an integral part of Audi’s strategy,” said Markus Duesmann, chairman of the board of management at Audi.

“We want to continue demonstrating the brand’s slogan Vorsprung durch Technik in international top-level motorsport in the future and develop innovative technologies for our road cars. The toughest rally in the world is the perfect stage for this.”