Volkswagen’s Motorsport division has announced the factory retirement of the internal combustion engine. In the future, the strategy will focus specifically on electric vehicles, they say. The department is thus following in the footsteps of the Wolfsburg parent company.
The Volkswagen subsidiary announced in a press release that the ID.R electric sports car will continue to play the role of technological pioneer in the future. New motorsport concepts for the ID.R family will be developed on the basis of the 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 programme,” Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand Technical Development Division, explains.
Conversely, the focus on electromobility means that production of the Golf GTI TCR touring car will cease at the end of 2019. “A successor based on the new generation will not be offered,” emphasises the Hanover-based subsidiary. And this despite the fact that, according to the German publication motorsport-total.com, a successor was already under development and “was only tested last week”.
“Volkswagen Motorsport broke new ground with the ID.R, and with its records around the world it demonstrated the enormous potential of electric drive,” Dr Welsch continued. Now is the time for the next step into the future, he says. The ID.R has attracted attention in the past with records at Pikes Peak (USA), at the Nürburgring (D), at Goodwood (GB) and at Mount Tianmen (CN).
In addition to abandoning the use of combustion cars in factory operations, Volkswagen Motorsport is also planning to electrify its customer sports programme. The first step will be to examine and evaluate different disciplines, platforms and vehicle types. The only exception is the Polo GTI R5, which, according to the Hanover-based company, remains an integral part of the customer sports range. Apparently though, the Polo GTI R5 will not be used in factory competition. According to motorsport-total.com, this decision means that Sebastien Loeb Racing is now in the Touring Car World Cup (WTCR) without a partner.
Sven Smeets, Director of Volkswagen Motorsport, says that the focus is now on innovative technology that is relevant for the automobile of the future. “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”.