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Volkswagen to Concentrate Fully on Electric Motorsport

VW announces a hardened focus on electric racing and will sideline its ICE motorsport programs…

Photo: Volkswagen

Volkswagen has confirmed that it will move to electrify all of its motorsport programs and bid “farewell” to its internal combustion engine (ICE) racing projects.

The German manufacturer, which holds four World Rally titles and three Dakar wins, is to refocus its approach to motorsport with immediate effect.

The transition to electric-only race programs will concern both factory and customer departments.

This will include ceasing production of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at the end of 2019, while a successor model will not be developed.

However, the marque has confirmed that it will “guarantee” customer service and spare parts supply to its TCR clients beyond the end of this year.

Volkswagen has also pledged to continue to service the customer-focused Polo GTI R5 rally car in its Hanover facility. The works Polo rally program ended after the 2016 world championship season.

As part of its wholesale electrification, Volkswagen plans to base its future ID. family race cars on the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB) used by its production wing.

“Electric mobility offers enormous development potential,” said VW motorsport director Sven Smeets.

“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.

“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.”

Member of the Board of Management Dr. Frank Welsch, meanwhile, suggested that Volkswagen’s motorsport program with the ID.R prototype helped ready the company for its full switch to electric racing.

The Volkswagen ID.R currently holds outright hill climb records at Pikes Peak, Goodwood and Tianmen and also claimed a new record for electric vehicles at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in June.

“Volkswagen Motorsport broke new ground with the ID.R, and with its records around the world, it demonstrated the enormous potential of electric drive,” said Welsch.

“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.

“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.”

Volkswagen is the first OEM manufacturer to completely switch its motorsport focus from ICE combustion to electric power.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous

    November 22, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Does this mean, just Volkswagen, or does this include ALL its brands? Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti etc. Because if it includes all of those then that means there won’t be Hypercar project in the WEC! Not that there is one confirmed I hasten to add.

    • Avatar

      FormulaFox

      November 25, 2019 at 6:40 am

      I strongly doubt it includes all the others. For one thing, the other brands have a higher degree of independence compared to, say, GM’s various brands, so it’d be a much bigger task to make happen as the other makes could push back against it.

      Secondly, there’s the complete lack of any mention of them, but much mention made of the VW-branded programs that will be affected.

      Thirdly, Volkswagen Group has seemed keen on making the VW brand itself the one that focuses on electrification – Formula E aside, the stuff that VW Group has paraded around the most publicly have generally had the VW badge on them.

      Lastly, it would be a very, VERY bad marketing strategy to throw out ICE across all their brands at this stage of the game. Electrification isn’t ready to take over completely, but VW’s in a position where they can take the plunge with one brand and fall back on the others if they struggle to make it work. I’m sure this is their plan.

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