Renowned for taking his automotive pursuits to the limit, Ken Block promises to bring a new spin to e-mobility in his collaborations with Audi.

Patrick Morda and Nadia Riaz-Ahmed

Julian Rausche

15 October, 2021

Respected professional rally driver and an Internet superstar, Ken Block’s name is synonymous with excitement and pushing the limits. Now the American has joined forces with Audi to work on future electrification projects – promising an exciting and perhaps even unorthodox future ahead.

During his first visit to Audi Sport, we spoke to him about electric mobility, progress and what he is up to with Audi.

Ken, many people think of you as a petrol head. Now you’ve had the opportunity to drive the fully electric Audi RS e-tron GT. What are your thoughts?

The Audi RS e-tron GT really surprised me. Obviously, Audi has created an exquisite design with careful attention to detail on all the finishes. That makes it an absolutely beautiful car. And once you get into the car and drive it, the experience is truly amazing. It’s exceedingly fast, handles very well and the centre of gravity is very low so you can change direction very quickly. I really enjoyed my time with the Audi RS e-tron GT.

What do you think about electric cars in general?

I embrace technology and anything that improves our future. I see the electric car as a leap forward for us as a society because it not only partially reduces emissions but also delivers high functionality and performance. I used to drive a truck but I’m looking forward to having an electric car. Electric mobility is the future. It’s really an evolution in the way we humans move around in the world. I’m fascinated by cars like the Audi RS e-tron GT, which boasts not only an absolutely beautiful design but also a lot of performance.

What is the key to performance for a professional racing driver like yourself?

When it comes to racing, there’s one thing you should know about me: I want to get around the track fast! To do that, I need more than just a powerplant – whether it’s a combustion engine or electric motor. I also need a high-performance chassis and well-tuned tyres. It’s a total package for me. I want what gets me around a track or onto a podium without stinting on speed or fun. I really embrace the idea of tomorrow’s electric motors giving me everything that I enjoy in rallycross, rallying, gymkhana and even off-road racing. If I can drive fast and have fun with it, I’m in.

Would you miss the sound of a combustion engine?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound of combustion engines, especially the five-cylinder that Audi is so famous for. That’s what I grew up with. Even so, I welcome change and whatever might make me go faster. Of course, I’ll miss the sound of the engine, but there are other ways to enjoy new technology and its sounds. The view that combustion engines are the answer because something would be missing without that growl is wrong. I have kids who haven’t grown up with those sounds for the past 30 or 50 years as I have and don’t care about them. They’re used to the idea that there are combustion engines and electric motors, each with their own sounds. To them, both are cool. We older people need to change our attitude and learn that the lack of a sound can also be very cool.

Speaking of your needs as a driver, how does the e-drive compare to a conventional one?

I have been driving cars with combustion engines and gearboxes for so long. All that is now changing because of electric motors. Not only can you program new settings differently but you don’t even need a gearbox for many electric race cars anymore. I’m excited about the benefits that these new approaches to racetrack technology and engineering will bring. Having seen and been involved in the development of some of the advances, I’m looking forward to continuing with the process and seeing how far we can push things. Moving forward, I’m always looking for better ways to do things. And electrifying cars is the next step – it takes the thrill of driving or racing that I love and makes it more technologically advanced.

Without giving away too much at this point, what can we expect from you and Audi in the future?

By testing electric cars in different contexts, we want to showcase mobility and electrification in new and entertaining ways. Audi has done an incredible job of driving their vehicles into the future. Hopefully, I can pick up on that and have a lot of fun with it at the same time. Audi technology has always had a huge impact on me. In the 1980s, the brand used to dominate one of my all-time favourite sports events – the World Rally Championship – in a way that truly inspired me. Over the years, I’ve always had a real fan’s appreciation for what Audi achieved in racing way back when, right up to modern-day motorsport. I have always been very impressed with their progressiveness and the fact that they are constantly looking ahead.