• Volkswagen takes on Pikes Peak Hill Climb with all electric machine
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Volkswagen takes on Pikes Peak Hill Climb with all electric machine

Volkswagen

has become the latest manufacturer to take on the infamous Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Located in Colorado, United States, Pikes Peak is a white-knuckle 12-mile climb which pushes car and driver to the limit. Volkswagen has been a notable absentee from the global motorsport stage since it suddenly pulled the plug on its World Rally Championship campaign at the end of 2016 after ‘dieselgate’ rocked the automotive world. But now it’s back and it’s more serious than ever, and what made it’s 2018 Pikes Peak challenge even more interesting was the fact that it attempted the challenge with a fully electric machine. The Volkswagen I.D. R machine is the first all-electric race car from the German marque and is certainly a step change from the hill climb challengers that went before it. It is built specifically to topple the electric car benchmark set on the climb, an 8m57.118s set by New Zealand national, Rhys Millen. Developed under the banner of VW’s new line of electric models, set to hit the roads in 2020, the I.D. R develops 670 bhp and whilst that may sound modest in comparison to other motorsport categories, the all-electric car can accelerate from standstill to 62 mph in 2.2 seconds, which is certainly comparable to Formula One and World Endurance Championship machinery. Design to reality was achieved in just 8 months and for a car this advanced that is no mean feat. Electric vehicles, whilst having less moving parts need to be designed in completely different ways. This is partly thanks to the cooling of the vehicle as battery temperature can have a significant impact on performance. Too hot and the battery will perform significantly poorer than a battery operated at more cooler temperatures. This was a key consideration for the technical heads at VW. Being a performance race car, weight is always at a premium so juggling the performance requirements of reliability and weight was a fine art. In the end, Volkswagen decided to rely completely on air cooling and therefore avoided any penalty of having to carry heavy water cooling equipment. The air cooling also allowed for a slick profile for maximum aerodynamic effects whilst its huge rear wing provides copious amounts of downforce to push this car firmly to the course. The original course record was set by Peugeot and Sebastian Loeb in the 875 bhp, V6 engined 208 in 2013. Driven by Roman Dumas, the Volkswagen I.D. R car took to the Pikes Peak hill climb back on the 24th June and in doing so, not only became the fastest electric car up the course but the fastest car overall, in the entire history of the event in a time of 7 minutes 57 seconds. Feats like this would have been considered an enormous task just a few years ago, however significant advances in battery technology have made this possible and look set to further forge out developments for the future. Volkswagen fully intends to utilise the lessons learnt with the I.D. R and apply them to its road car technology. This technology has already found its way onto vehicles that we hold in stock, and if you want to experience electric and hybrid technology, be sure to visit our website today.