Volkswagen has set some ambitious targets for its electrification strategy, so it’s using one of the most extreme races in the United States as a development lab.
VW will enter an all-electric prototype racer in the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the manufacturer announced Thursday. This will mark VW’s first time competing on the 12.4-mile course since 1987, when its twin-engine Golf failed to reach the finish line.
Despite the outcome of its last assent, VW has high hopes for its 2018 campaign. The German automaker has its sights set on breaking the electric prototype record time of 8:57.118, which was set by Rhys Millen in 2016.
“The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore perfectly suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies,” Dr. Frank Welsch, member of the VW board responsible for development, said in a statement. “Our electric race car will be equipped with innovative battery and drive technology. The extreme stress test posed by Pikes Peak will give us important feedback that will benefit future development, and it will showcase our products and their technologies.”
Pikes Peak was chosen for this project largely because, as drivers race to 14,000 feet above sea level, cars are pushed to their absolute limits. This is especially true for EVs, which require heavily modified cooling systems to prevent their batteries from overheating.
The event in Colorado also is one where drivers constantly are battling both the clock and their own fears, as their are massive drop-offs along the way to the summit — as Ken Block recently highlighted in dramatic fashion.
VW has pledged to release 23 new all-electric models by 2025, including a retro microbus, and the hill climb program will play a major roll in the company’s EV development.
Thumbnail photo via Volkswagen
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