Volkswagen has revealed the 671hp ID R Pikes Peak electric-powered prototype that it will use on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, in June.
The machine, which has been designed solely for the 19.98-kilometre, 156-turn Colorado hill climb, features two electric motors that combine to offer 637Nm of torque and permanent four-wheel drive. The ID R Pikes Peak weighs "less than" 1100kg, including driver Romain Dumas, with VW claiming a 0-100kph time of 2.25sec and a top speed of 240kph.
The one-off racer is 5,200mm long, 2,350mm wide and 1,200mm high, with a wheelbase of 2,850mm. It features double wishbone suspension. The chassis is built around the safety monocoque from a Norma sports prototype that Dumas has used to win Pikes Peak for the past three years, with VW developing a closed-cockpit sports prototype-style design. The lithium-ion batteries are mounted on the floor of the car, with a large rear wing and other aerodynamic parts designed to ensure maximum grip despite the high altitudes.
VW is gearing up to launch the ID range of electric road cars starting in 2019. Development boss Frank Welsch described the Pikes Peak event as a “real acid test” for VW’s electric programme.
“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 ID models,” said Welsch.
VW says the focus of the ID R Pikes Peak is not on outright performance but on balancing energy capacity and weight.
The machine is powered by lithium-ion batteries developed in collaboration with VW’s battery plant in Braunschweig, Germany, although the focus is on ensuring the highest possible power output for the run-up to the Colorado mountain rather than outright range. VW says that around 20% of the energy used by the ID R Pikes Peak will be created using energy recovery during braking on the course. A fast charging system will allow the batteries to be charged in around 30 minutes.
The ID R Pikes Peak has been developed by VW's motorsport division. Sven Smeets, the firm's motorsport chief, hinted that it could be the first of several electric vehicle projects: “As with the Volkswagen brand’s production vehicles, fully electric racing cars will also play an increasingly important role for us in the future.”
The ID R Pikes Peak was launched at the Pôle Mécanique circuit in Ales, France, shortly before starting a test programme there. Because the Pikes Peak course is a public road, participants are unable to test there ahead of the event; even in official practice, they only get to run on short sections. The ID R Pikes Peak will run in the top Unlimited Division, which only stipulates that cars meet certain safety requirements.
VW is targeting the record for an EV at Pikes Peak of 8min 57.118sec by Rhys Millen in a Drive eO PP100 in 2016. That car featured six electric motors and offered peak power of 1,596bhp.
The outright Pikes Peak course record of 8min 13.878sec was set by Sébastien Loeb in the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak, in 2013.
The Pikes Peak event, which takes place on June 24, is regarded as one of the toughest hill climbs in the world. As well as the 156 turns on its 19.98-kilometre route, competitors must also cope with the elevation: the start line is 9,390ft above sea level and rises 4,720ft to the finish at a height of 14,110ft. The course gradient averages 7.2%.
VW previously competed at Pikes Peak between 1985 and 1987, with Jochi Kleint running a twin-engined Golf. That car had turbocharged 1.8-litre engines driving each axle, giving a peak output of 652hp. Kleint was the fastest driver to the halfway point in 1987, but retired with a suspension joint failure less than a mile from the finish.