How long does it take to reach Heaven’s Gate?
680 hp, 500 kw and from 0 to 100 in 2.25 seconds are some of the technical facts of a zero emission, fully electrified four-wheel drive, called the ID.R. I am sure you have heard of it before and the ongoing challenges Volkswagen has been setting themselves throughout the past year. With three incredible records in just 14 months, Volkswagen has proven its true passion for electro-mobility with the ID.R, as well as its great performance capabilities. And now Volkswagen is bound to set another world record, a fourth one.
It all started off when the decision was made to attempt setting the new record at Pikes Peak. That is dated back 9 months prior to the event in June last year and let me tell you that it not a lot of time to develop a full electric race car which is supposed to break the „Race tot he Clouds“ record and get below the mark of 8 minutes. However, the whole team at Volkswagen and especially their Motorsport department has managed to developed and build the prototype Le Mans like racer known as the ID.R. Dumas and the ID.R cracked the eight-minute mark for the first time ever, with a time of 7:57.148 seconds. The ID.R also became the first fully-electric car to hold the all-time record at the legendary “Race to the Clouds”.
Romain Dumas, the French racing driver who has achieved winning the 24h races at Le Mans, Spa and Nürburgring is deemed to be just about the perfect pilot for the challenges Volkswagen Motorsport are setting themselves.
“Jeder lobt, was Nürburgring-erprobt” – The „Green Hell“ was bound to be their next test ground and the aim to set a new lap record for for electric vehicles. The 20.8-kilometre circuit is regarded as the toughest in the world. In order to master this challenge, the engineers had to modify the technology in the ID.R to suit the unique conditions faced on the Nordschleife. This applied in particular to the chassis set-up, energy management and ensuring that the correct tyres were selected for the record attempt. In June 2019, Romain Dumas once again made history at the wheel of the ID.R, setting a time of 6:05.336 minutes to break the previous record for electric cars by roughly 40 seconds.
In July the same year, Dumas broke the record for electric cars at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed at the first attempt. However, the record hunt wasn’t over, the goal was set, this isn’t going to be their last record attempt. Exactly one year later, the same duo lined up again at the popular event in Goodwood, our first time experiencing the ID.R in its full activity and being live on sight while the incredible new record is set: 39.90 seconds. Dumas broke the previous all-time record – set 20 years ago by a McLaren MP4/13 Formula 1 car – by 1.7 seconds. “With the records we have set so far, we have consciously pushed cutting-edge e-mobility technology to the limit at iconic venues,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “In doing so, we wanted to show what electric cars are capable of. The records and the entirely positive response have shown that e-mobility will have a positive effect on our everyday life in the near future. We are pleased to be the forerunners of this pioneering Volkswagen technology with the ID.R.”
02. September 2019: Just one week prior to the reveal of Volkswagen’s first fully electrified, series production vehicle, the ID.3, one last record with the ID.R is about to be set for the year of 2019. 10.906 kilometres, 99 corners, one aim: another groundbreaking record with the Volkswagen ID.R. The ID.R has been functioning as a racing spearhead and motorsport ambassador to the ID. family. A series production family powered with pure electricity which will appear on the market from 2020 and the ID.3 being the first to be revealed in less than a weeks time from now at the IAA (Frankfurt Motor Show).
VW hasn’t revealed too much about the new car, but the hatch displayed at the ID brand’s launch in concept guise was the size of a Golf mixed with the interior space of a Passat – a crucial advantage of electric propulsion. Jürgen Stackmann, VW board member for sales, marketing and aftersales, said: „For the ID.3, the starting price of the standard model in Germany will be under €30,000, as promised. The special edition will cost less than €40,000 in Germany. At these prices, the car is also economically viable. The purchasing costs are slightly higher than those of a combustion vehicle, but the e-vehicle is considerably more economical in terms of maintenance, for example about 30 percent in terms of maintenance. This means electric mobility is becoming available to the masses.“
China is a very important and overgrowing market for European car manufacturers and especially for the new era of electrified driving.
„With the ID.R we want to prove once again that electro-mobility is not only fun, but also extremely efficient and capable of high performance. Electro-mobility is emotive and fascinating: this is the clear message the ID.R is sending. We hope that Tianmen, with our benchmark, will become a place where electric vehicles compete regularly to reach new heights. The situation is similar with the production vehicles of the ID. family: we are convinced that the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) is unparalleled. It not only forms the basis of all future ID. vehicles, but it is also available to other vehicle manufacturers.“, explains Jürgen Stackmann, member of the board of management Volkswagen Passenger Cars and responsibility for Sales, Marketing and After Sales.
“China will take on a pioneering role in terms of sustainable mobility, digitalisation and new mobility services,” said Dr. Stephan Wöllenstein, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand and CEO of Volkswagen Brand China. “Come 2020, Volkswagen brand will have a portfolio of 10 NEV models on the market in China, followed by the rollout of the fully-electric ID. product family, based on the innovative MEB platform. Until 2023, some 10 ID. models, all fully connected and in different body styles, are planned to hit the streets of China.”
Now, today, at Tianmen Mountain in China, Romain Dumas is still one of only three people who have had the privilege of sitting behind the steering wheel of this unique fully electrified VW race beast.
According to Volkswagen, “an official fastest time for racing cars did not exist before the record attempt”, although Jaguar Formula E team reserve and test driver Ho-Pin Tung previously took a Range Rover Sport SVR up the mountain in 9m51s.“
The track itself presents unique challenges and is a journey into the unknown, because until now no such record has ever been attempted on ‘Heaven’s Gate’ – especially without emitting any carbon dioxide. The 99 bends of the road to the Gates of Heaven have it all: almost every one of them is a tight hairpin curve, separated only by concrete blocks from the steeply sloping abyss. The rhythmically winding sections appear to be stacked. Concrete slabs form the surface and provide sufficient adhesion, but also an extremely bumpy surface.
According to Volkswagen Motorsport the following facts additionally apply: „Curve 88, with its radius of only around six meters and a track width of between five and six meters, is a bottleneck that can probably be negotiated at a speed of just 25 km/h. The concrete slabs are also very bumpy. On the longest section, the Volkswagen ID.R, on the other hand, will reach speeds of around 230 km/h.“
The ID.R is driven by two electric motors with a total system performance of 500 kW (680 PS), riding on tailor-made Bridgestone Potenza tyres. The huge torque of the racer is surely a huge advantage on the short straights, while the aerodynamics provide additional traction in the fast sections.
“The ID.R’s outing on Tianmen Mountain will be conducted under special circumstances,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “Never before has there been a comparable record attempt here at Heaven’s Gate. However, our team has great experience in achieving outstanding results with little preparation time. Especially in the all-time record at Pikes Peak, where Romain Dumas turned the existing relationship between combustion engines and electric drive on its head. Therefore, we will approach the task at Tianmen with respect, but also with great anticipation.”
Sensational 7:38.585 minutes and the ID.R has reached the „Heaven’s Gate“: Volkswagen and the ID.R have once again shown what the electromobility of the future is already capable of today.
Romain Dumas (F), Volkswagen ID.R
“I will certainly remember this record run on Tianmen Mountain for ever as my most spectacular outing. I am proud to have set a record with the electric Volkswagen ID.R in China. The little information and testing we had beforehand made it a huge challenge. The road is incredibly narrow and winding, but the drive was unbelievable fun with the electric power of the ID.R. The huge torque was a big advantage on the short straights, while the aerodynamics provided additional traction in the fast sections.”