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Volkswagen aims for the clouds with latest EV

I.D. R Pikes Peak will attempt hill-climb record for electric cars

Published: April 23, 2018, 2:30 AM
Updated: April 28, 2018, 5:50 AM

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak

With its latest electric vehicle introduction, there is no denying Volkswagen is aiming for the clouds.

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak

The German company has unveiled its latest race car — the fully-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak — meant to perform according to its name, on the road up Pikes Peak, about 112 km south of Denver, Colorado.

“Volkswagen’s involvement on Pikes Peak not only sets the trend for our future in motorsport, but is also of great symbolic significance in the truest sense,” said Volkswagen Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Development, Dr. Frank Welsch. “Customers have always benefitted from the findings made in motorsport, and we expect to take these findings and use them as a valuable impetus for the development of future I.D. models. The hill climb on Pikes Peak will definitely be a real acid test for the electric drive.”

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak wheel

The I.D. R Pikes Peak is a lightweight (less than 1,100 kg) fully-enclosed super sports car whose 2-motor powertrain makes 680 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to take it to 100 km/h in 2.25 seconds, making it faster than Formula E cars (and even faster than Formula 1 cars).

It achieves this mainly because the focus from the start was not to create the most powerful, lightest car capable of still being driven, but rather to achieve a balance between energy capacity and weight. Volkswagen says that’s why it’s both an “I.D.” (Volkswagen electric brand) and an “R” (synonymous with VW’s performance trims.

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak cockpit

That said, the goal of the energy storage lithium-ion battery cells was on maximum power output, not the longest range desired by most production electric vehicles. And like production vehicles, regenerative braking is going to help top up the batteries on the way to its destination. Volkswagen estimates that 20% of the totally energy used on the hill climb will be recaptured over the 20-km course, mostly in the lead-up to the 156 corners.

“The car looks fantastic and has already been attracting a lot of interest from the media and on social media channels for a few weeks,” said Jürgen Stackmann, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand with responsibility for 'Sales, Marketing and After Sales'. “This project shows once again that Volkswagen is on the right track with its major E-mobility strategy and the introduction of the I.D. family.”

Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak

The car will be driven by Romain Dumas, the French 39-year-old Porsche factory driver who lists overall victories at the 24 Heures du Mans, 24 Hours of Nürburgring and 12 Hours of Sebring among his accomplishments. He’s also the defending “unlimited” champion at Pikes Peak, having claimed overall victory last year and the previous year at the wheel of a Norma M20 RD Limited (a French racing prototype).

“As with the Volkswagen brand’s production vehicles, fully-electric racing cars will also play an increasingly important role for us in the future,” concluded Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director.