Volkswagen is by far the most charged of the legacy automakers. In November, the company announced that it would increase its planned investment in electrification. Now the German giant says it will revamp its motorsport programs to focus on electric mobility. From now on, the emphasis will be on fully electric racing cars, and ICE racers will be on their way out.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s ID.R racer has done impressive things on the track, setting records at Pikes Peak, Nürburgring, Goodwood and Tianmen (China). The ID.R will continue in a starring role, and VW will also develop new motorsport concepts based on the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform. “In addition to the ID.R as a technological pioneer, the MEB will in future be the second, production-related pillar in Volkswagen’s motorsport program,” said Board Member Dr. Frank Welsch.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s customer sport program will also be electrified. Production of the Golf GTI TCR for the racetrack will expire at the end of 2019, and no successor will be offered (although customer service and spare parts supply will be guaranteed). The Polo GTI R5 will continue to be produced for customer teams, but there will be no more factory-backed competition entries with the Polo.
As Engadget pointed out, the shift is not quite so momentous as it sounds. Volkswagen Motorsport is mostly known for rally cars and touring cars – VW has less involvement in the racing world than some rivals, such as Mercedes, with its major investment in Formula 1 racing. Also, the Volkswagen Group’s Audi and Porsche brands will continue to participate in the petroleum-based racing world. But, considering that both of these also field Formula E teams, we can certainly see a trend at the track.
“Electric mobility offers enormous development potential, and in this regard motorsport can be a trailblazer,” said VW Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “On the one hand, it serves as a dynamic laboratory for the development of future production cars and, on the other, as a convincing marketing platform to inspire people even more towards electric mobility. That is why we are going to focus more than ever on factory-backed electric drive commitments and continue to expand our activities with the development of the MEB.”