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Volkswagen to Eliminate all Non-Electric Race Programs

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, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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