The electric Volkswagen I.D. R racer set a new overall Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record Sunday, racing up to 14,115 feet in a stunningly quick 7:57.148. The previous overall record of 8:13.878 was set in 2013 by Sébastien Loeb in a Peugeot 208 T16.
This is seriously impressive, though remember, the record will not be officially official until Monday, when final times are announced.
The last time Volkswagen raced up the mountain was in 1987, in a unique Group B Golf rally car with one engine powering the front wheels and another powering the rear. Just a quarter-mile from the finish line, a suspension ball joint failed and driver Jochi Kleint was unable to take the checkered flag.
For its reentry into Pikes Peak, Volkswagen built a prototype EV with 680 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. A 43-kWh battery feeds juice to the all-wheel drive monster, with an electric motor on each axle that can propel it to 62 mph in 2.25 seconds. Total weight on this bad boy is less than 2,425 pounds, including driver Romain Dumas.
The rear wing is of utmost importance to the I.D. R, since the thinner air at the top of the mountain translates into less downforce. François-Xavier Demaison, Volkswagen Motorsport's technical director, didn't give specifics on the amount of downforce, only saying that it's the "size of a park bench" and that it creates more downforce than the total weight of the car.
EVs are especially suited to hillclimbs as they don't lose power at altitude like a conventional combustion engine. They may be equally suited to rally cross as well, according to VW factory driver Tanner Foust.
"Rallycross races are short, require a lot of torque and require great acceleration. The future of motorsports relies on motorsports being able to improve road cars. I would drive an electric rally car."
The I.D R is seen as the ambassador for Volkswagen's future lineup of EVs. The I.D Crozz will come to market in 2020 as an electric crossover while the über-cute microbus I.D. Buzz and I.D. Vizzion sedan coming to fruition in 2022.