THE Pikes Peak hill climb is widely believed to be one of the most dangerous motor sport events in the world, and no place, you’d imagine, to wheel out a new, eco-electric car. But when the electric car is question is a racing machine that’s as fast as a Formula One racer, the odds of making it to finishing line, 4,300 metres up, may not be stacked against it.
This is the new Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak racing machine. The electrically powered single-seater has been designed to win the fearsome , known as the race to the clouds. To do so, it will have to climb the torturous 12.4 mile Colorado course while safely negotiating 156 bends.
Powering the prototype ID R racer are two electric motors, with give a total of 671bhp and 470Ib ft of torque. Because the carbon-bodied car weighs less than 1,100kg, it is claimed to be capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 2.2 seconds – making it faster accelerating than some F1 cars.
Although the idea of Volkswagen building an electric race car to take victory at the Pikes Peak hill climb might seem ambitious to some, the team’s driver – Frenchman Romain Dumas – already has three wins to his name. Dumas has also raced sports prototype LMP1 cars for the likes of Porsche, and won Le Mans, twice.
Following the dieselgate emissions scandal, of 2015, Volkswagen has been forging ahead with development of a range of electric cars, known as ID, due in showrooms from 2019. The ID R will act as an attention-grabbing flagship for the more sensible, battery-powered family cars under development.
It uses lithium-ion batteries, mounted on the floor of the car’s carbon chassis. The focus is on ensuring the highest possible power output for the sprint up the Colorado mountain, rather than outright range. An energy recovery system will recoup about 20% of lost battery power as the car brakes hard for the twists and turns.
“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 Frank Welsch, boss of car development for VW.
The ID R Pikes Peak will challenge for first place in the Unlimited Division. To break the record for an electric car, Dumas will have to beat a time of 8min 57.1sec, set by Rhys Millen in 2016.
The outright course record stands at 8min 13.8sec. It was set by Sébastien Loeb in a Peugeot 208 T16, in 2013. You can watch Loeb in action, in the video below.