The record-breaking 671bhp Volkswagen ID R electric prototype has set the first official record of 7mins 38.585secs on the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road in China – with the firm challenging other EV makers to try and beat it.
The car was driven by Romain Dumas, who has previously used it to set new outright or electric records at Pikes Peak, the Nurburgring and Goodwood. To showcase the potential of its ID electric technology in China – the world’s largest EV market – Volkswagen staged an event on the 6.776-mile, 99-turn road, which snakes up Tianmen Mountain near Zhangjiajie in China’s Hunan Province.
Due to time constraints, Dumas had limited running on the course, with just four test runs in the ID R on two practice days before the record attempt, and two more ahead of his final run today (Monday). Having completed the course in around 8min 30sec on Sunday, Dumas admitted he was surprised by his eventual time.
"The track improved for the final run, because some damp bits dried up, and we made some changes to the car that allowed me to push," he said. "I took a few more risks, and we improved a lot. I was sweating a lot in the last run."
Dumas described the course as “completely crazy”, with the team’s biggest problem finding grip on the bumpy road surface, which the ID R’s suspension had not been originally designed to cope with.
While this was the first officially timed run up the hill, a number of machines have tackled it in anger in the past. The previous unofficial hill record – on a marginally longer course – was set by Land Rover last year using a 567bhp Range Rover Sport SVR. Driven by Jaguar Formula E reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung, it completed the course in 9min 51 secs.
Stephan Wollenstein, VW's Chinese boss, said the event was a milestone for the firm in the Chinese market, and issued a challenge to other manufacturers. "Now the race is really on," he said. "We invite anyone who thinks they can build an electric car that can go quicker to come and challenge us."
He added: "If anyone goes below 7mins 30secs, we'll get a new car and come here again."
Volkswagen will unveil the ID 3, its first production model based on the VW Group’s bespoke electric MEB platform, at the Frankfurt motor show. The firm will launch two locally produced ID models in China next year, with the market a key part of its goal to sell one million BEVs per year by 2025.