Fast Is Fast: VW Is The New King of the Hill

Volkwagen’s electric ID R Pikes Peak has destroyed all Pikes Peak records in its first competitive outing.

Blazing across the 14,110ft finish line at 7 minutes and 57.148 seconds, Romain Dumas is now the fastest man to the summit, averaging 90.538mph around the 156 turns to the clouds, and destroying Sebastien Loeb’s 2013 time of 8:13.878 in a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak and the first vehicle to dip below the magic eight minute mark.


That’s not bad considering the car only entered development in October last year.

The race itself should need no introduction. This twisting and dangerous 12.42-mile annual hill climb ascends some 4,720ft, from Pikes Peak Highway through the clouds, to the summit in the Rocky Mountains. It’s an event that attracts the world’s top hill climb competitors in a bid to become to fastest past the chequered flag.


Not only does the length and difficulty of the course pose problems for competitors, but the huge increase in altitude creates its own unique issues too. As the course climbs the air becomes drastically thinner, starving traditional internal combustion engines of one of their key ingredients. For a naturally aspirated engine, this can be as much as 3% per 1,000ft, and with the finish line at PPIHC sitting at 14,110ft, that’s a 40-odd-percent drop in performance at the summit.

Forced induction has huge advantages in such situations, as the thinner air can be compensated for and greatly compressed to provide sufficient oxygen to the motor – what’s more, turbo spool speed increases around 1-2% for every 1,000ft of elevation gained, so turbos even perform more efficiently at altitude than at sea level. Of course there’s a downside – the higher you go, the significantly harder the turbo has to work to provide sufficient boost, leading to an increase in heat and decrease in longevity. In short, altitude does the internal combustion engine no favours.


This is where EVs can really excel. As they aren’t affected by atmospheric conditions in the same way that engines powered by fossil fuels are, their performance remains consistent as they climb. Volskwagen haven’t released a whole lot of information about the ID R’s mechanical aspects, but we know that two electric motors send around 670bhp to all four wheels and can rocket to 62mph in just 2.25sec.


We also know that having Dumas behind the wheel significantly increased Volkswagen’s chances of a record-breaking climb. After all, he’s won PPIHC three times previously, and has a handful of victories driving hybrid cars, including winning Le Mans in 2016 in the Porsche 919 Hybrid.


Off the back of Dieselgate, this result is hugely important to VW’s EV development program, and sets a precedent for PPIHC.

It also begs the question of whether it’s now possible for an internal-combustion engine to ever reclaim the crown at Pikes Peak?

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters

Photography by Larry Chen, Louis Yio, Jason Zindroski & Jr Sang for Volkswagen Motorsport



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There has been and will be much said about this "wonder EV" car and how it has smashed the record. However, probably more important would be the effort put into the aerodynamic component.


This. I was extremely surprised when looking at the stats. Apart from some insane (but now usual in the EV realm) accelaration, the power isn't all that high and neither is the weight all that low (For Pike Peaks machines, at least). Obviously the AWD system is for a lot and tires don't need any mention, but those 20 kilometers of record breaking definitely aren't just thanks to the type of powerplant used. Volkswagen pulled some magic in there.


The fastest part of ev's is you never lose time changing gears and hp goes out the window as a viable measurement as its only torque vs rpm, which some electric cars will have a 3000rpm which in this case would mean it has 690hp @3000rpm means torque would be 1208ft lbs. Where as it could be a 9000rpm petrol motor with peak power of 690hp but it only has 400ftlb of torque. Really Electrics throw the usefullness of hp out the window because as long as there is enough torque for the gearing it will rev till it cant anymore, be it geared for 300kmh or 200kmh. And as most real racers say torque wins races hp sells cars.


Lot's of rubish in that post mate.

HP is the only measurement. Your scenario is irrelevant if the 9000rpm cars gearing is appropriate...

Most real engineers would say HP is the function you look at for acceleration. The peak of which falls at peak HP not peak T...


attn: FIA, ACO, Formula E, IMSA et al
This is the technology i'd like to see racing at LeMans, road courses, street courses, endurance etc. Battery life an issue? Sure, but let the design teams figure it out and come up with solutions. Less limits, more innovation and creative engineering please.


I agree somewhat. The ACO out of everyone has done this best so far, the LMP1-H cars are incredibly impressive in terms of economy and performance.

Trickle down and then back up might be the best possible solution; i.e. if VW uses hybrid tech to supplement the 1.4TSi engine into the next hot-hatch; then feeds it back into WRC and WTCC tech like that Citroen C4 hybrid which was built around 2008 - petrol FF and electric rear engines.


I agree that I'd like to see it in the lower levels of racing as well but that might be harder to regulate than at the top level (i.e. in terms of BoP/EoT) unless they go to 'spec' power units similar to Formula E. The Electric GT series might be interesting but I think a more performance oriented chassis (lighter/nimbler) than the Tesla would be more entertaining.

I think the real excitement would be if you opened up the rules in LMP 1 or top open wheel classes and let the manufacturers and racing dictate the performance solutions. The 919 Hybrid EVO demonstration is enlightening to see what happens when the limits are pulled off. The argument would be that whoever has the best tech might walk away with the season and racing would be boring. But I don't think this is any less boring than Toyota racing themselves and the circuit at LeMans this year. Or this VW breaking the record at Pike's Peak. Or the 919 setting unofficial lap records. I'd just like to see a field of similar equipment pushing the edge of tech/performance.

That tech would indeed trickle down to the lower levels and to road vehicles.


The problem with the 919HEvo is that we would've got all this awesome tech and racing if F1 and it's TV rights hadn't fucked Group-C. If we binned the absolute bullshit that is F1 and replaced it with LMP1-H sprint series (which gives economy, hybrid power, road-size tyre development etc etc to real cars) it would all happen so much better.

2020's new LMP GT1 or whatever they're gonna call it might be the beginning to a successful start for Hybrid series at top level racing. WRC we won't see it until 2023 at the earliest. No reason WTCC couldn't have KERS.

Formula E fucking sucks so far.


This so much, well said Josh.

It’s crazy that in 2018, sports car racing is still struggling to recoup what it lost in 92/93. Give the man some credit, Bernie did an excellent job of nearly destroying sports car racing.

And what do we get in it’s place? A wec that has more highs and lows than Kanye west, and F1 that is not much more of a “sport” than professional wrestling.


Can't say much but congratulations. Fast time...

Tevita Phillips

hahahah thats spicy


Can we not make jokes about Naziism and the holocaust? Let's keep it classy, thanks.


To think that it wasn't that long ago that long ago the electric cars started racing decent times at Pikes Peak and that now one has the overall record is quite a statement to how far the technology has come in a relatively short time as well as manufactures willing to support it.


More to the point the car that has the record was a factory backed car that did not use the silhouette of a road car but that of a full on aero sports car. Had VW plonked an ic engine in and had the same determination I doubt there would be any difference. I would be more impressed if a electric car could even finish a stage of the Dakar.


^ Exactly. Let the 919 EVO have a go...


I think we'll be reading about the 919 Evo again veeeeery soon...


Foreshadowing my Irish friend? Do you know something we don't now?

Paddy McGrath

Not now, anyways, but the date & time of my comment might provide some insight.

The poor French Carguy

That is an insane time for an insane race with an insane car. However it is not that surprising, and I can't imagine the budget that went into that race. The 208 T16 was already an expensive machine, even if it used leftover parts from Peugeot Sport, so I can't imagine what this thing must cost. It is impressive yes, and a good advertisement for the VW brand. Congrats to Romain Dumas for besting Sebastien Loeb's performance.
Now we cant say #Under8, just like at the Nürburgring =P


They say that the car is based on a Norma chassis, a company which is known for producing some of the best dedicated hillclimb cars in the European championships. Then i imagine they had some of VW finest (now underemployed) WRC/Dakar guys working on it, using all their experience in making a good idea actually work in the real world.


That is one could looking race car. And fast.

It's not that much faster than the 5 years old record, so surely it could be beaten by internal combustion. But I don't think it would. There's just no point for any company to invest a lot for a race to prove old technology can still beat the new.

And the Peugeot was a tube framed recycling bin for their old LMP parts that was made to look like a hatchback. Lot's of time to be gained in aero, chassis and tire development, but simply no point anymore.


Referring to the 208 T16 as a 'recycling bin' is some serious revisionist stuff. That car was and remains a work of art.


It is a work of art, but still they did repurpose a lot of parts from car built for a totally different kind of racing. From engineering point of view that makes it even more of a masterpiece. What I meant was that surely there is a lot more potential for a car like that, if everything is designed from the ground up just for Pikes Peak


The car looks sensational!


This is amazing.

for a point of comparison I'd like to see Porsche run the 919 evo up the hill.
even though its not really built for hillclimb duty think it would be a great point
of comparison to see what one of the fastest track cars in the world can do up pikes peak


Very impressive performance and maybe most surprising to me is the car actually doesn't look awful, like the rest of the EV lot do...and any "hybrid" automobile made these days really, IMO.
This should help VW move forward, and HOPEFULLY encourage the rest to make their cars look GOOD as well as do the rest of the things they do...well, we can hope.


there are ZERO decent looking hybrid/EVs out there that regular people can afford. even the e-golf looks completely hideous. How is that possible??? Its the same car as a GTI which looks really cool (yes I own a MK7 GTI) Congrats to VW for this accomplishment now SOMEONE make a fun, good looking electric for middle class car enthusiasts.


It’ll come in time. As the tech develops, it’ll get cheaper to produce.


well done veedub really good to see them pushing things forward , gutted we didnt get to see the 919evo go up there too fingers crossed you race it out up goodwood fos


Send this thing up goodwood please (:


It's going to run two days at Goodwood AFAIK.


First of all: big congratulations to VW for making this happen on such a short period of time. But, as fast as the run may have been, it's nowhere near comparable to Loeb's run in the Peugeot. The immense torque of the electric motors is a big advantage on the twisty roads of the Pikes Peak, and the aerodynamics of the ID.R are on a completely different level. Peugeot stayed (probably for commercial reasons) close to the shape of their 208 road car, and didn't make full use of the open rulebook for unlimited cars. If they had designed a scratch-built sportsprototype, they would have probably gone a lot faster. But that's not gonna happen anymore, at least not by a big manufacturer. There is no (commercial) point anymore for running a new record on fossil fuels nowadays.


Hopefully vw can expand on this concept, and perhaps eventually bring an EV to Le Mans. I’d love to see EVs go head to head with hybrids and traditional IC units at Le Mans.


That would be really cool. Endurance racing would bring the challenge of quick battery changes though.


The King of all Kings on that hill always will be Walter Röhrl for climbing it first time ever under 11 minutes completely on gravel (untreated - no additives to block the dust).
And the only thing VW should develope is a real sense of responsibility... instead of breaking EV-records in order to polish their image.