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Volkswagen outlines ID Rs huge aero challenge. Image by Volkswagen.

Volkswagen outlines ID Rs huge aero challenge
Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak EV needs special aerodynamic set-up to operate at altitude.
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What's all this about?

Volkswagen is going to tear up the side of a Coloradan mountain in June in this behemoth. It's called the ID R Pikes Peak and, yes, that means it is developed purely for the Pikes Peak hillclimb in the USA. It's a 500kW (680hp) electric car and the aim is for the team to smash the existing record at the 12.5-mile event for electric prototypes, which currently stands at 8 minutes 57.118 seconds. But there are some serious aerodynamic challenges to overcome.

Why's that?

Because the start line of the Pikes Peak hillclimb sits at nearly 2,900 metres above sea level, with the finish up at 4,300 metres. Therefore, the air is thinner and thus there's nothing like the aerodynamic conditions you'd get on a flat race track down at sea level.

So how has Volkswagen got around this?

By using Porsche's wind tunnel at Weissach to develop a 1:2 scale model of the ID R. There's that colossal rear wing to ensure the car has more downforce, even up the side of a mountain, and the relaxed regulations for Pikes Peak mean the engineers can work all sorts of magic, creating 'about 2,000 parts' for the car in short order using a 3D printer. Plus, being an EV means it doesn't need any engine cooling, so the ID R is perfectly optimised for its very specialised operating environment. You see, the team behind it has focused on cornering speed rather than maximum velocity.

For what reason?

Allow Franois-Xavier Demaison, technical director at Volkswagen Motorsport and project manager for the ID R, to explain. He said the car would only reach a top speed on the run of about 150mph, which is way beneath its ultimate capability, and added: "We concentrated mainly on achieving optimal cornering speeds. The entire chassis is designed to generate as much downforce as possible, without causing too much aerodynamic drag."

Does anyone else on the team have something to add?

Indeed so. Willy Rampf, the technical consultant on the project and a man who has experience of working in Formula 1, said: "The altitude on Pikes Peak means that the air we are driving through is on average 35 per cent thinner. As a result, we lose 35 per cent of our downforce compared to a racetrack at sea level. The huge rear wing allows us to compensate for some of this lost downforce. The imaginative aerodynamic development means that we will still achieve maximum downforce greater than the weight of the car during the hillclimb."

What's the timescale for the ID R's development from this point?

It will make its first run up the summit in a shakedown at the end of May, before Romain Dumas has the honour of trying to beat that ever-so-slightly-sub-nine-minutes EV record on June 24. And, if that's not enough info for you at the moment, you can watch a video on the ID R's aerodynamics right here.

Matt Robinson - 18 May 2018

2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.

2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak. Image by Volkswagen.    - Volkswagen road tests
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