Eight months ago, the Volkswagen Design team took on the multifaceted challenge of designing a highly emotional, yet perfectly functional race car for the most famous hill climb in the world. The result is the I.D. R Pikes Peak—the brand’s first fully-electric racing car—which will compete at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2018.
“We already have a wealth of experience with high-performance cars and with racing cars, but a powerful prototype like the I.D. R Pikes Peak was a world first for us,” said Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design. “Our task was to transfer the unmistakable style of the I.D. family to such an extreme and emotional racing car. My whole team was motivated to the core by this unusual challenge.”
The design development for the racing car participating in the “Unlimited” category started in October 2017 with the proverbial blank sheet of paper. In the initial briefing, Bischoff and his colleagues didn’t get much info from the engineers other than the desired length, width and height of the chassis of the I.D. R Pikes Peak.
Pikes Peak Conditioning
The physical conditions at Pikes Peak uniquely affect the design of the car, requiring collaboration between the design and engineering teams. Every element from the aerodynamics and the cooling system for the engine, to the batteries and brakes of the racing car needs to be able to cope with the unusual stresses of the thin mountain air—the starting line is located at an altitude just above 9,000 feet, with the finish at 14,115 feet above sea level.
“The close alignment with the engineers was very important during the design process,” said Bischoff. “Our task was to give a form to their requirements. Design and function formed a symbiotic relationship.”
As a member of the future I.D. family—the series of all-electric powered production cars that Volkswagen will bring to the market as of 2020 (I.D., I.D. CROZZ, I.D. BUZZ, I.D. VIZZION)—it was important that the I.D. R Pikes Peak looked the part. The Volkswagen Design team managed to integrate key design elements of the I.D. family into the extreme body design of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, including a smooth aesthetic style with a sculptured quality, vivid graphics and unique lighting.
The I.D. R Pikes Peak makes its competition debut on June 24, 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Driver Romain Dumas’ goal is break the record in the class for electric prototypes, which currently stands at 8:57.118 minutes.
“I would be delighted if the design we developed helps us complete this difficult task,” said Bischoff. “We will definitely be wishing our colleagues at Volkswagen Motorsport the best of luck on race day.”