On the same day that the sixth season of the all-electric Formula E Championship opened in Saudi Arabia, Volkswagen has announced it is shifting its motorsports strategy to focus purely on electric mobility. Consequently, the German manufacturer is ending all its factory backing of racing programs involving internal combustion engines.
The company pointed to the records achieved by its ID.R electric prototype (pictured), which has set milestones for electric mobility with speed records at Pikes Peak (video below), Nurburgring, Goodwood and Tianmen (China) as the direction it intends to take its future racing activities. Volkswagen Motorsport will develop new motorsport concepts for the ID. family on the basis of the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), on which numerous electric production vehicles will be based.
“Volkswagen Motorsport broke new ground with the ID.R, and with its records around the world it demonstrated the enormous potential of electric drive. Now is the time for the next step towards the future: in motorsport, Volkswagen is resolutely committing to e-mobility and will say goodbye to factory-backed commitments using internal combustion engines,” said Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand with responsibility for Technical Development. “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.”
“Electric mobility offers enormous development potential, and in this regard motorsport can be a trailblazer: 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,” added Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “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. Innovative technology relevant to the car of the future is our focus.”
VW Motorsport’s customer racing program will also be electrified. The first stage will involve different disciplines, platforms and vehicle types being examined and evaluated. Parallel to this, the production of the Golf GTI TCR for the racetrack will expire at the end of 2019, and a successor based on the new generation will not be offered. Long-term customer service and spare parts supply was guaranteed, however.
The Polo GTI R5 remains an integral part of Volkswagen Motorsport’s customer sport offering and will continue to be produced for customer teams. Its Hanover, Germany base will be responsible for continued customer support, spare parts supply and the competitiveness of the Polo, but factory-backed competition entries with the Polo GTI R5 will no longer go ahead.