Sweet Revenge: Volkswagen Takes World Record on Pikes Peak

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Volkswagen’s I.D. R Pikes Peak all-electric race car made history at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past weekend, becoming the fastest vehicle ever to tackle the mountain.

The intent was for VW to restore its honor (after leaving the event in shame in the 1980s) and best the EV record set by course veteran Rhys Millen in 2016. But the German automaker’s electrified demon handily smashed that record. With a total time of 7:57.148, the Volkswagen I.D. R has proven its mettle and its driver, Romain Dumas, will be cemented as a Pikes Peak legend on par with Rod Millen and Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima.

The previous unlimited class record had gone untouched since 2013, when Sébastien Loeb throttled his Peugeot 208 T16 across the finish line in a very lean 8:13.878. Unless another manufacturer becomes absolutely hellbent on building the ultimate hill climb car, we expect Volkswagen to hold the record for a while.

“We exceeded even our own high expectations with that result. Since this week’s tests, we have known that it was possible to break the all-time record,” Dumas said after the race. “For it to come off, everything had to come together perfectly – from the technology to the driver. And the weather had to play ball too. That everything ran so smoothly is an incredible feeling, and the new record on Pikes Peak is the icing on the cake. I still cannot believe that Volkswagen and my name are behind this incredible time. The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most impressive car I have ever driven in competition.”

Dumas went on to praise the team behind the car, saying the victory on June 24th wouldn’t have been possible without them. While the driver’s skill has been repeatedly proven on the mountain, he has a point. The engineering behind the I.D. R is more than impressive. At a mere 2,425 pounds, the car’s electric motor boasts 670 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of instant torque. While those output numbers aren’t wildly impressive for a modern-day hill climber, the power to weight ratio and torque delivery are absolutely stellar. Volkswagen even claimed the vehicle was faster than a Formula One car.

Whether or not that’s true, we’d love to see the race. But it doesn’t really matter — the electric VW still whistled up all 12.4 miles of the mountain faster than anything that preceded it. The I.D. R seemed to have the perfect recipe for race day. Its light weight is offset by loads of downforce produced by its flat structure and massive rear wing, its electric powertrain helps it maintain peak output in the thinning atmosphere, and its driver has won on the mountain numerous times in the past. Even more impressive is that the vehicle’s turnaround from conception to win took a scant 250 days.

“This is a fantastic day for Volkswagen and one, of which we are very proud. The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most innovative and complex car ever developed by Volkswagen Motorsport,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets.

“Every employee involved in the Pikes Peak project has constantly had to push their boundaries and show extreme commitment and dedication. Without this, it would not have been possible to repeatedly overcome new challenges and come up with new solutions. It should actually be impossible to achieve all that and especially the all-time record in such a short time, but our team pulled it off thanks to their passion and commitment.”

[Images: Volkswagen]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
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