Volkswagen reveals its all-electric Pikes Peak hillclimb car

Volkswagen is returning to the famous Pikes Peak hill climb for the first time in 30 years, with an all-electric car.

The I.D. R Pikes Peak is a car Volkswagen has built specifically to compete at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) on June 24th. It's part of the brand's expanding I.D. Range of electric cars, due to go into production in 2019

See also: Sebastien Loeb smashes Pikes Peak record

See also: New Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 rally car unveiled

This range consists of the I.D., a small compact car, the I.D. Buzz camper, I.D. Crozz SUV and I.D. Vizzion, a flagship saloon car due on sale to the public in 2022. In total, Volkswagen aims to offer 20 fully electric cars by 2025.

PPIHC – or "Race to the Clouds" – is one of the most unusual and challenging races in the world. The course is 12.4 miles long – a little shorter than the Nurburgring – but has 156 corners as it climbs up the side of a mountain in Colorado. It features savage switchbacks, an average gradiant of over 7% and huge drops away from the course. The track is now fully paved, but used to be a loose rally surface, adding to the danger.

The finish line is at an elevation of over 14,000 feet (4,300m), and the cars must climb a total of 5,000 feet (1,525m) from start to finish. This has a dramatic effect on combustion-engined cars. As the air gets thinner with the height, engines struggle to burn their fuel. Traditionally, racers have combatted this with massive turbochargers, but electric cars face no such problems. That said, Sebastien Loeb set the overall record for the course at 8:13.878, in a petrol-engined Peugeot 208 in 2013. The electric record stands at 8:57.118, set by Pikes Peak legend Rhys Millen.

Volkswagen's last attempt to tackle this race was in 1987. The car it used at the time was a twin-engined, 652hp Golf. The driver, Jochi Kleint, could choose front, rear or four-wheel drive as he saw fit. Having set the fastest time halfway up the mountain, he was well on his way to victory until he suffered a suspension failure.

Sven Smeets, Volkswagen's motorsport director, said: "It is about time we settled the score. The I.D. R Pikes Peak represents an extremely exciting challenge for us, to show what is possible with an electric engine in motorsport. The entire team behind our driver Romain Dumas is highly motivated to set a new record for electric cars."

Aside from the images, and the fact that the I.D. R Pikes Peak is four wheel drive, there's little information on Volkswagen's new car. Millen's record-setting e0 PP100 had nearly 1,600hp, and if Volkswagen is aiming to beat that, it's likely to have at least as much.

By Andrew Evans

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