“Racing improves the breed” is an expression that has been around since the early days of automobiles. A few hours on the race track can reveal weaknesses that might not be uncovered any other way before production begins. Winning can also attract potential customers into showrooms. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” has been a cherished saying in the auto industry for nearly a century. VW hopes that saying is still true today as it brings a prototype racer to Pikes Peak later this year.
As the car business pivots away from conventional cars and toward electric vehicles, companies are anxious to use the allure of racing to make potential customers comfortable with the idea of owning an electric car. As attendance at conventional car races wanes, manufacturers are rushing to get involved with Formula E, which uses electric race cars. New racing series featuring Tesla Model S sedans and the Jaguar I-Pace are planned.
Now Volkswagen wants to bring a dual motor electric race car to the iconic Pikes Peak hill climb on June 24. The annual event is unique in the world. The starting line is 9,390 feet above sea level. The finish line is 12.4 miles uphill at the 14,110 elevation mark. In one sense, an electric car is perfect for this competition. Internal combustion engines lose power at higher elevations but electric motors are unaffected by altitude changes.
The race car will be based on the I.D. chassis that will underpin all the new electric car models Volkswagen intends to bring to market in the near future, including the Buzz, Crozz, and I.D. sedan. It is a joint effort between the electric vehicle team, the company’s high performance R operation, and its Motorsport division, the group that manages all of Volkswagen’s racing operations.
Electric race cars are becoming more common at Pikes Peak. Last year, Faraday Future brought a race-prepped FF 91 to Colorado, hoping to generate enough buzz to keep the company from going out of business. That strategy turned out to be woefully ineffective. Volkswagen obviously expects better results from its venture into high altitude racing.
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