The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is held every year in Colorado Springs, and it’s one of the oldest races in the United States. The timed run up the twisting, 12.42-mile road to the 14,115-foot summit at is contested by teams from around the globe, and this year, Volkswagen bested them all.
Driver Romain Dumas piloted the company’s electric ID R race car up the mountain in just 7:57.148, which was quick enough to not only break the record for an electric car by nearly a minute, but the overall record as well. That time — 8:13.878 set by Sébastien Loeb in a Peugot rally car — had been standing since 2013, which should tell you just how tricky it is getting to the top in a hurry is. And if that doesn’t do it, just consider that there are 156 turns to navigate over the course of those 12 miles, and if you screw up, you could wind up plunging over a cliff.
Yup, Pikes Peak isn’t a challenge for the weak of heart.
Another interesting thing to remember? Electric cars actually have somewhat of an advantage at the Hill Climb, as internal combustion engines are forced to deal with thinner — and progressively less efficient air — as they ascend. That means they make about half the power at the the top of the mountain as they do at the bottom. But since an electric car doesn’t need air inside a combustion chamber to make power, output remains the same for the duration of the run. Given the rapid development of electric powertrains, we think we’re seeing a permanent shift here, in that all future overall winners will be EVs. It’s a historic moment, for sure.
While you unfortunately won’t be able to head down to your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer and pick up an ID R, its technology will likely help in the development of the company’s electric vehicles, like the next-generation Microbus. So watch the aerial footage of the electric racer ripping up the mountain, and stay tuned for more news on the forthcoming bus!