The manufacturer aims for hillclimb glory as Stateside sales struggle
In October of last year we reported that Volkswagen was preparing to return to Pikes Peak. Now, against a backdrop of precarious figures, the resignation of its US sales chief, and a share price that's fallen since February nearly as steeply as the Peak's own precipitous slopes, more details have been released around what VW aims to achieve on June 24th.
The car you see here is the I.D. R Pikes Peak, an all-electric, all-wheel drive prototype racer. It heads to Colorado with two main objectives: to act as an ambassador for VW's electric tech - the marque plans to offer more than 20 fully-electric cars by 2025 - and to finally complete the job so nearly finished on the company's last visit to the Rockies.
On that occasion, over 30 years ago, VW arrived with a twin-engined 660hp Golf. With independent 1.8-litre turbocharged engines in the front and rear, the car could run in front-, rear- or all-wheel drive configurations, and was capable of 0-62mph in just 3.4 seconds. Driver Jochi Kleint put himself within reach of a famous victory, but, just three turns from the finish line, suspension failure forced the rampant Rabbit and its driver to retire.
Things will, VW hopes, be rather different this time. As the self-proclaimed first step towards "an intensification of the cooperation between Volkswagen R and Volkswagen Motorsport" the I.D. R will carry a great deal more than just its driver to the top of the mountain; the pride, expectation and ailing US reputation of the company resting on the electric future it heralds.
To make doubly sure of success, VW has employed the best man for the job, with 2014, '15 and '16 winner Romain Dumas taking the wheel for the 12.5-mile run - Rhys Millen's electric prototype class record of 8:57:13 surely also in his sights. There are no specific performance figures yet, but Millen's eO PP100 used a 50-kWh lithium-ion battery mated to seven electric motors to produce nearly 1,600hp and 1,858lb ft of torque. VW will need similarly mountain-moving momentum to claim its long-lost victory, and to turn its US fortunes around.
Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)