Monday 15 October 2018

Shape of things to come as VW unveils first all-electric racing car

Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Photo: Eddie Cunningham
Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Photo: Eddie Cunningham
Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Photo: Eddie Cunningham
The car was unveiled at the Circuit Póle Mécanique Alés in France. Photo: Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham in Alés, Provence

THESE are first pictures of Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car called the I.D. R Pikes Peak – a vehicle with technology that will percolate down to road cars in the near future.

The world premier of the I.D. R Pikes Peak gives a strong indication of how electric VW’s drive systems can perform in out-and-out driving – and ultimately under everyday conditions.

The four-wheel-drive (a motor on each axle) electric powerhouse, developed by Volkswagen’s motorsport division, has just been unveiled at the Circuit Póle Mécanique Alés in the south of France.

It is scheduled to go on the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in June. Since 1916 the 19.99km hill climb (also known as the ‘Race to the Clouds’) has been held near Colorado Springs in the Rockies. The route runs from a 2,800-metre start to a 4,300-metre summit. It is claimed to be the most difficult hill climb competition in the world.

Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Photo: Eddie Cunningham
Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Photo: Eddie Cunningham

The new VW racer car is regarded as a something of a ‘figurehead’  for the electric-powered I.D. road cars that Volkswagen will make from next year.

The significance of the I.D. R Pikes Peak motor lies not just in its extensive technology but also in showing that electric cars can be far from boring. Figures suggest this is devastatingly quick: 0-100kmh in 2.25 seconds, 500 kW (680PS) of power and 650 Nm of torque – all the while weighing less than 1,100kgs. By the way, that 0-100km is faster than Formula 1 and Formula E cars. Interesting too is that roughly 20pc of the electric energy required is generated during the 20km drive.

Up to now we only had an idea of how the car might look from computerised images. In the flesh it is a different proposition altogether with its ultra dramatic lines and carbon body making many a Le Mans racer looking like a family saloon beside it.

 Since getting the official go-ahead it has been built in eight months - and everything in it is new. One of the biggest challenges – always a major one for a race car – was keeping the (battery) weight down.

Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Photo: Eddie Cunningham
Volkswagen’s first all-electric racing car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak. Photo: Eddie Cunningham

Experts here told me that they’ve been working with Volkswagen battery boffs to do that. One told me the technology can be described as an ‘ambassador for I.D. road cars. However, they weren’t giving too much away just yet.

The VW engineers must now get down to real-world testing – first in France and then in the US. Like being able to charge it in under 30mins in racing conditions.

Romain Dumas, who has won overall Pikes Peak victories in 2014/16/ 17 in a Norma M20D, will drive the new Volkswagen.

Underlining the relevance to future electric car buying, VW’s development chief Dr Frank Welsch says: “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.”

Sven Smeets, VW’s motorsport director, reveals how they worked closely not just with the Volkswagen battery plant in Braunschweig but with the technical development department in Wolfsburg.

Online Editors

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