– Fully-electric car for the most famous hill climb in the world weighs less than 1,100 kilograms, including driver
– Comprehensive computer simulations accelerated development
– Battery weight reduced by restricting system performance to 500 kW (680 PS)
It started with simulations. « Before we actually assembled the I.D. R Pikes Peak, we used computers to analyse a multitude of different configurations, » says Willy Rampf, technical advisor to the project and a man with a wealth of Formula 1 experience, recalling the start of the development of the car for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. « It was clear to us that we would not have time to build multiple test vehicles. We had to get it right at the first attempt. »
The trials focussed on finding the optimal compromise between performance and weight. Both factors are even more dependent on each other in an electric car like the I.D. R Pikes Peak than in a racing car with a conventional combustion engine. The simple rule of thumb is: The greater the performance, the heavier the batteries required. However, every single gram is unwanted weight – particularly at a hill climb. On Pikes Peak, the cars must overcome a difference in altitude of more than 1,400 metres – from the start at 2,862 to the finish line at 4,302 metres above sea level. Romain Dumas, at the wheel of the I.D. R Pikes Peak, will also be faced with a series of hairpin turns, where a heavy car would be a disadvantage when braking and accelerating out of corners.
As such, the Volkswagen Motorsport engineers decided on the following strategy: The I.D. R Pikes Peak was to be as light as possible, while still maintaining a very high level of performance. The framework for this strategy was provided by the regulations for the most famous hill climb in the world, which literally offer virtually limitless freedom in the ‘Unlimited’ class.
Development team given free rein
Being given the proverbial blank sheet of paper and told to develop a new racing car from scratch is a dream for any engineer. “To develop a car solely for this 20-kilometre hill climb is a very special task. There were virtually no bounds to the innovation shown by the engineers,