VW Hopes to Take Revenge on Entire Mountain With I.D. R Pikes Peak Racer
Electric vehicles have been a sore spot for many motorsport enthusiasts — odd, considering they offer massive performance gains via gobs of instant torque. There’s just something about EVs that keeps them from gaining mass appeal. That said, Formula E is gaining some traction and automakers continue developing high-end electrics in the hopes of turning a profit and paving the way for mainstream models.
Volkswagen Group, which has promised to shift deep into electrification in the coming years, really needs to make these cars appealing. Its I.D. product line for the VW brand has spawned numerous concept vehicles with an emphasis on building positive associations. The Buzz is the most obvious example. Essentially the battery-electric reincarnation of the Microbus, the Buzz aims to help customers see EVs as friendly and fun, while tacking on some nostalgia for good measure.
However, the Buzz doesn’t offer heart-pounding excitement or mind-warping performance, so VW had to build a battery-powered racer. Announced last year, teaser images of the model showed a full-tilt insane vehicle outfitted in hill-climb gear. Volkswagen claims the model will enter into the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for 2018 to take revenge on behalf of a Mk. II Golf from 1987.
Equipped with a massive rear wing and front spoiler, the I.D. R Pikes Peak racer is highly reminiscent of ultra-serious hill-climb cars. However, while the VW may have the aero of the highly modified Suzuki Escudo (or first-gen Sidekick in the United States) Dirt Trial Car, its race to the clouds will be comparably silent and done on entirely paved roads.
“We want to be at the forefront of electro-mobility with Volkswagen and the I.D. family,” said Volkswagen management board member Frank Welsch in a statement. “Competing in the most famous hill climb in the world with the I.D. R Pikes Peak is a valuable test for the general development of electric cars.”
VW intends to offer at least 20 fully-electric models by 2025, with the first hitting the global market by 2019. Pikes Peak provides an opportunity for the company to build positive publicity for itself.
“Pikes Peak is without question the most iconic hill climb in the world. The I.D. R project represents a fantastic opportunity for Volkswagen to change the conversation about e-mobility, both emotionally and from a sporting perspective,” said Jürgen Stackmann, another VW board member with responsibility for marketing and sales.
Volkswagen is branding the hill climb with references to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb of 1987, when it brought a twin-engined Golf but was unable to complete the race when the front suspension buckled. Phrases like “Unfinished Business” and “1Score2Settle” saturate the social media campaign around the event.
Similar to the vintage prototype Golf (and the Escudo), the I.D. R is also likely to use a twin-engined design to drive both axles. While VW hasn’t confirmed the official setup of the car, it has specified that it will be all-wheel drive and utilize the new MEB platform. The current record for electric prototypes is held by Rhys Millen, who pushed his eO PP100 up the hill in an incredible 8:57.11. Volkswagen hopes to take the record away from Millen and possibly achieve an overall victory at the event.
“It is about time we settled the score,” says Volkswagen Motorsport director, Sven Smeets. “The I.D. R Pikes Peak represents an extremely exciting challenge for us, to show what is possible in motorsport with an electric drivetrain. The entire team behind our driver Romain Dumas is highly motivated to set a new record for electric cars.”
This year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place on June 24th in Colorado. We expect to see the I.D. R racer in the flesh before then.
[Images: Volkswagen Group]
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