Volkswagen I.D. R at Pikes Peak

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car shocked the world when it set the overall record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado. But now VW may be aiming for an even bigger target. Autocar reports that the German automaker may take the I.D. R to the Nürburgring to try to set some kind of record. A lap record there conveys ultimate bragging rights.

Citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the I.D. R program, Autocar claims Volkswagen will try to set the Nürburgring lap record for electric cars, which is currently held by Nio. The Chinese startup’s EP9 recorded a 6:45.9 time in 2017. The EP9 is technically a road car, but Nio only made 16 of them — priced at $1.4 million each.

Volkswagen’s internal simulations indicate that the I.D. R will be much quicker than the EP9, according to Autocar. So quick, in fact, that the electric car could beat the overall Nürburgring lap record. That record was set in June 2018 by the Porsche 919 Evo hybrid, a heavily modified race car from one of VW’s sibling brands. The 919 Evo lapped the 12.9-mile racetrack in 5:19.55, demolishing the previous lap record of 6:11.13, which was set in 1983.

A Volkswagen insider told Autocar that engineers have already seen lap times of around 5:30 in simulations, adding that “there’s more to come, we’re sure.”

The I.D. R was built specifically to break the electric-car record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a point-to-point race up Colorado’s Pikes Peak. But the I.D. R ended up smashing the overall record as well, making a powerful statement about the capabilities of electric cars. If VW can do the same thing at Nürburgring, electric power will be trouncing internal combustion on an even bigger stage. But a lap record is far from guaranteed.

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Because it was designed specifically for Pikes Peak, the I.D. R will need to be modified for the Nürburgring. Aerodynamic tweaks to allow a higher top speed will be made, according to Autocar, as well as changes to the all-wheel drive system. The I.D. R uses two electric motors — one powering each axle — which produce a combined 680 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.

The electric powertrain gave the I.D. R an advantage at Pikes Peak, where the altitude robs oxygen — and thus power — from internal-combustion engines. Volkswagen won’t have that advantage at the Nürburgring. The I.D. R may even be at a disadvantage because of its heavy battery pack. The I.D. R weighs 2,400 pounds, compared to the 1,871-pound weight of the Porsche 919 Evo. At least Volkswagen is expected to stick with driver Romain Dumas, who set the Pikes Peak record. As a four-time winner of the Nürburgring 24-hour race, he’s familiar with the track.

Volkswagen has booked time at the Nürburgring in May 2019, according to Autocar, indicating it could try to set a record then. That would help promote the first production I.D. electric cars launching in Europe later in the year. Some of those cars will eventually make their way to the United States.

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