The “Race to the Clouds” Is About VW’s Overall Electric Vehicle Strategy
In an effort to push the diesel scandal behind them and rebrand itself as an electric-vehicle company, Volkswagen has entered the one-off electric I.D. R Pikes Peak race car in the Unlimited class at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 24. The German carmaker is planning to not just win the race, known as the “Race to the Clouds,” but to claim the existing electric car record, which stands at 8:57.118 minutes.
VW board member Dr. Frank Welsch said, “The hill climb on Pikes Peak will definitely be a real acid test for the electric drive. Customers have always benefited 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 I.D. in the racecar’s name comes from Volkswagen’s forthcoming lineup of all-electric vehicles—the I.D. Buzz minibus and the I.D. The Crozz crossover SUV. The “R” is synonymous with performance cars; VW currently uses it on its Golf R performance model..
Two Electric Motors and One Really Big Rear Wing
The I.D. R’s proportions are typical for a car specifically built for racing. It’s 204.7 inches long, 92.5 inches wide, and 47.2 inches tall, with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Under its carbon fiber body are a pair of electric motors that put out 680 horsepower and 479 pounds-feet of torque. Power will be sent to all four wheels, but thanks to its electric power supply, torque will be fed to the wheels that need it most, for active torque vectoring.
With a curb weight under 2,500 pounds, Volkswagen estimates that the I.D. R will hit 60 mph in just 2.25 seconds, which is quicker than the quickest hypercars. To get its EV racer to finish the 12.42-mile race, Volkswagen went with an air-cooled 40 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which they tucked both behind and beside the driver. The I.D. R will rely on energy recovery to keep its batteries fed during the race. VW claims that 20 percent of the energy needed to finish the race will be generated while the car is racing.
The oversized wing is there to provide sufficient downforce (despite the thin air at high altitudes) without increasing drag. The rest of the extreme aero package is aided by the ultra-low ride height, taking advantage of the lack of rules in the Unlimited class at Pikes Peak.
The Ultimate Hill Climb Race
The Race to the Clouds involves a 4,720 vertical-foot climb, 156 corners and just one single attempt. It is not unheard of for finish-line temperatures at the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak to be below freezing with snow still on the ground at the end of June.
Romain Dumas will be the driver responsible for shoving the I.D. R up the mountain as fast as possible. He’s a good choice for the job, with three Pikes Peak and two Le Mans victories under his belt.
Volkswagen’s participation in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb could be another step to getting the company out from under the cloud caused by its diesel emissions scandal.
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