VW Ends Racing Operations, Sends Team to Build EVs

vw ends racing operations sends team to build evs

Do you ever get the feeling that everything even remotely fun and interesting is being thrown on the pyre of progress so we can collectively live safer, duller lives? Case in point, Volkswagen is dismantling its racing operations so the 169 people it employed can be reincorporated. Responsible for the all-electric Volkswagen ID.R racer that showcased some of the performance advantages of EVs to attentive audiences around the globe, the team will now be responsible for building ID models intended for mass consumption.

While we’re sure spreading their engineering prowess around will benefit VW’s core brand, it’s unfortunate that it came at the expense of the brand’s motorsport activities — modest as they might have been in 2020.

Volkswagen issued a release on Tuesday, saying it was “pooling strength for the electric offensive.” Though this seemed to be a metaphor for sales, rather than winning races. Those days appear to be over for the foreseeable future.

“For decades, the Volkswagen Motorsport GmbH team brought the brand a string of major sporting successes. My warmest thanks go to all employees for so many victories, titles and records throughout the world and for their personal dedication and commitment,” Wilfried von Rath, Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Human Resources, said in a prepared statement. “We are delighted that we are able to preserve jobs, especially in these challenging times, and will be offering all employees a transfer contract.”

This leaves Porsche and Audi to proves Volkswagen Group’s mightiness at the track. But even they’ve been less inclined to go racing lately. Audi recently announced it would be withdrawing from Formula E and has been out of Le Mans for years. But this is allegedly part of a greater plan to have Audi prepare itself for wins in Dakar and Le Mans — which it is reportedly ready to take another whack at.

So then the reality is that the mainstream VW will just become blander more pedestrian? Does the company think that plebeian customers don’t have sporting aspirations? It’s getting hard to tell, frankly. Every time I’m required to speak with VW, its people exert tremendous amounts of energy to explain to me how to make my readers “appreciate the value” of electric vehicles. Our last interaction involved an hour-long seminar about how spending more on an ID.4 actually means saving more money in the long run. This was based on general assumptions we could all make about electric cars and proprietary data VW essentially invented for its own argument. True or not, the endless ticker tape parade the industry is throwing for EVs and the concept of “mobility” is getting tiresome.

“The Volkswagen brand is on the way to becoming the leading provider for sustainable e-mobility. To this end, we are pooling our strengths and have decided to terminate the Volkswagen brand’s own motorsport activities. The motorsport workforce will be integrated in Volkswagen AG. The deep technical expertise of the motorsport employees and the know-how gained from the ID.R project will remain with the company and will help us put further efficient models from the ID. family on the road,” said Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management and responsible for VW’s Development Division.

[Image: nrqemi/Shutterstock]

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Dec 02, 2020

    ID.4 is the future. As a reminder (I keep forgetting), "The name ID. stands for intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies." https://www.volkswagenag.com/en/news/2019/05/VW_brand_ID3.html So it's really IDIVT? IDIAVT? iDIaVT? Shrugs. (My id says order one now, but my super-ego keeps saying no.)

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 02, 2020

    "...the team will now be responsible for building ID models intended for mass consumption" As a designer, I'd welcome the job security vs being on a racing team, and the new challenge of building an affordable EV. Just as Tesla went through 'production hell' on the high-volume Model 3 vs the Model S, there are serious engineering challenges facing anybody in an EV program. Building EVs may not sound sexy, but it's VW's hottest program right now.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?