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VW unveils powertrain for insane all-electric race car to conquer Pikes Peak

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is coming soon and a few interesting electric vehicles are expected to compete, but probably none more hyped than VW’s all-electric race car custom-built for the event.

VW is now unveiling details of its electric powertrain with newly released footage as it tests the vehicle.

The famous Pikes Peak competition has been emerging as a proving ground for electric vehicles in recent years. Now VW wants to make some records to showcase its latest EV technology.

The 12.4-mile route starts at just above 9,000 feet and climbs to the summit at 14,115 feet above sea level. It requires the right balance of power, energy capacity, and weight.

In April, Volkswagen unveiled their I.D. R Pikes Peak race car in which they installed their latest electric powertrain tech to face the challenge.

At the time, they released some specs, like a weight “under 2,500 lbs”, two electric motors capable of “680 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, giving it a 0-60 time of 2.25 seconds,” but that’s about it.

Today, they went into a lot more details about what they describe as “a highly-sophisticated and highly efficient drivetrain.”

World premiere of the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak on 22nd April 2018 in Alés (F)

The German automaker describes the powertrain in a press release:

Volkswagen’s first fully-electric racing car has two interlinked, integrated lithium-ion battery blocks on board, located to the right and left of the cockpit. They feed energy to two separate high-performance electric engines for the front and rear axles. Together, they provide performance of 500 kW (680 PS). The actual performance level is controlled electronically, depending on the situation on the track. This means that the neutral driving behaviour ideal for a racing car is achieved when accelerating out of a tight turn, for example, as the front wheels also have to transmit steering forces to the track in addition to the drive power. When Romain Dumas depresses the accelerator or brake pedal during the world’s most famous hill climb, the movements are not transmitted by cables, but digitally with e-gas and brake-by-wire, a braking system with electronic signal transmission.

VW says that regenerative braking of the I.D. R Pikes Peak will enable the vehicle to produce “up to 20 percent” of the energy to complete the race.

Marc-Christian Bertram, Head of Electrics/Electronics at Volkswagen Motorsport, said:

 The interplay between recovery and mechanical braking is controlled by electronic systems that the driver does not even notice,

The engineer added:

It was a massive challenge for our whole engineering team. We had no experience of electric drivetrains to call on in a racing context, a very short timeframe of seven months for development, and we were only able to test on the actual route at the end of May,

Volkswagen released some footage of their testing:

The company is confident that it has a shot at taking the record in the electric prototype class, which currently stands at 8:57.118 minutes, set in 2016 by New Zealand’s Rhys Millen.

We will be able to see the vehicle in action on June 24 at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado.

I’ll end this post with this fun video:

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