Volkswagen has set its sights on the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2018 with the development of a contemporary electric-powered race car, the German company’s head of research and development, Frank Welsch, has confirmed.
Pictured here in a darkened image issued by Volkswagen, the four-wheel-drive car is being developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in co-operation with its technical development operations in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The 2018 Pikes Peak entry is being used by Volkswagen to highlight its push to become a leading manufacturer of electric-powered production models following the diesel emissions scandal.
“The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and excellently suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies,” said Welsch. “The extreme stress test on Pikes Peak will give us important findings that will benefit future development and it will showcase our produces and their technologies."
To be equipped with what Welsch described as “innovative battery and drive technology”, the car is set to be driven at next year’s event by the 2014, 2016 and 2017 overall victor, Romain Dumas, according to insiders with knowledge of Volkswagen's plans.
The head of Volkswagen Motorsport, Sven Smeets, describes the Pikes Peak challenge as an “important milestone in the company’s new motorsport orientation”. The prototype is the first electric race car to be developed by Volkswagen Motorsport.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is run over a course of 12.4 miles in an ascent from 1440 metres to a summit of 4300 metres above sea level. The current electric car prototype class record of 8min 57.118sec is held by Rhys Millen in a Toyota-sponsored prototype in 2016.
In this year’s Pikes Peak, Dumas drove a 600bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder Honda-powered Norma MXX RD Limited race car to victory in a time of 9min 05.672sec.
Volkswagen last competed at Pikes Peak in 1987 with a 652bhp twin-engined Golf sporting a 1.8-litre engine up front and at the rear.