Intent on becoming a major producer of electric vehicles in the next decade, Volkswagen is already plotting to show off its abilities in the field by trying to break a racing record.
VW said on Thursday that it will build an electric racecar with the hopes of besting the record time for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2018 near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The all-wheel drive vehicle is being developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Germany, the first time the company’s racing division has produced an electric vehicle. It will also mark the first time in 31 years VW has competed in the hill climb.
“The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races,” Dr. Frank Welsch, VW board member responsible for development, said Thursday in a news release. “It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore perfectly suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies.”
Welsch said lessons learned through the Pikes Peak program and race will be incorporated into the electric vehicles that are eventually sold by all VW brands. That includes a revival of the iconic Microbus as an EV passenger and commercial van in 2022 and a production EV crossover in 2020.
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has been held annually since 1916 in the Rocky Mountains. The race course is 12.4 miles long, climbing 4,700 feet to the summit at just over 14,000 feet above sea level. The current Pikes Peak hill climb record for a modified electric vehicle was set in 2016 by an e0 PP100 driven by Rhys Millen, completing the run in eight minutes and 57.118 seconds. A Tesla Model S set the record for a production car the same year, at 11 minutes and 48.264 seconds.
The 2018 race will be held on June 24th.