Ever since Dieselgate, people have been accusing Volkswagen of making too many promises about building electric cars somewhere down the road and not doing enough to actually manufacture and sell them. Even after it announced the start of series production of the ID.3 electric sedan at its factory in Zwickau earlier this month, many skeptics said it was just more greenwashing on Volkswagen’s part.
Auto racing is often the face of any car company. Mercedes spends about a bazillion dollars a year to finance its Formula One team. That’s far more than it gets back in prize money and yet it feels the advertising value it derives from its association with Formula One is more than a worthwhile investment. For years, Audi, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, was heavily involved in Le Mans style endurance racing with a powertrain centered on a turbocharged diesel engine.
Now Volkswagen Motorsport, the arm of the company that coordinates all factory racing programs, says it will no longer use internal combustion engines of any kind in factory-sponsored automotive competitions. From now on, if it has a VW badge on it and it’s a race car, it will have a battery and an electric motor. No internal combustion engines of any kind will be used. That, friends, is about as clear a signal as you can get that Volkswagen has exited the gasoline and diesel age and embraced the EV revolution. No more greenwashing. When an electric race car becomes the public face of a company, the transition is real.
The ID R race car that took on Pikes Peak and the Nurburgring is now the official poster child for Volkswagen Motorsport. But the company’s announcement mentions that racing versions of the ID.3 are in the works. The GTI TCR — a thinly disguised race car popular in Europe — will be no more at the end of this year. The company confirmed this week that there will be no equivalent model when the 8th generation Golf replaces the current Golf starting next year.
Shifting to electric race cars has two important advantages, according to CNET Road Show. Racing still improves the breed as it has for the past 100 years. In addition, racing electric vehicles is a way to show people that EVs can be fun and powerful. That, in turn, can help shape public opinion and drive the EV revolution forward. That’s a good thing for everyone.
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