Volkswagen Purpose-Built Electric Prototype to Take on Pikes Peak in 2018


Using motorsport to advertise the company’s series products is something carmakers have been doing for years, and the Volkswagen Group is no stranger to this technique.
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It was the famous Audi quattro that made all-wheel-drive popular among passenger cars and, more recently, the diesel-powered Audi racers that made the TDI engine the success it was up until the emissions scandal broke out two years ago. Racing has always been the most effective way to prove a new technology’s real-world worth. If it can succeed in under the demanding conditions of a competition, it’s surely good enough for your daily driver as well.

And despite being relatively short (especially when compared to the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race), there are few tougher challenges than the Pikes Peak hill climb. Stretching over 12.4 miles (19.99 km) of paved road and having its finish line at 14,000 feet (4,300 meters) above sea level, it is the world’s most famous and brutal time attack race of its kind.

On their way to the top, drivers and cars have to negotiate a total of 156 turns with an elevation gain of 4,700 feet (1,432 meters) from start to finish. The thin air at higher altitudes makes life harder for internal combustion engines, which might give electric prototypes an edge over their fuel-burning counterparts.

Well, it hasn’t really so far since the current best times for EVs and the unlimited class are 44 seconds away in favor of the latter. It’s rally legend Sebastien Loeb who registered the quickest ascent in his Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak special vehicle back in 2013, stopping the clock at 8:13.878. The EV prototype record was set by Rhys Millen last year managing a very respectable 8 minutes and 57.118 seconds.

Hell-bent on making its EV intentions all the more believable, Volkswagen announced it is building its own battery-powered prototype to take part in next year’s race (June 24). It’s unclear whether the Germans are gunning for the EV record or the overall one, but judging by the way the car looks, anything is possible.

The company only released a thumbnail-sized teaser image, but it’s enough to spot the ridiculously large front splitter and the intricate rear spoiler, as well as the canopy-styled cabin. This is a car built for one purpose and one purpose alone, so as long as there are no technical malfunctions and the weather doesn’t turn sour, we wouldn’t bet against them correcting the current records.


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