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Silently Storming Pikes Peak: Volkswagen Returning to Hill Climb with an EV

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Volkswagen doesn’t mince words when describing the electric race car it has announced plans to campaign at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: “The new motorsport project is part of Volkswagen’s process of transforming itself into the leading producer of electric vehicles.” (And, you know, forget that whole diesel cheating thing—a key driver for the brand’s pivot to EV development.) Whatever its motivations, VW’s decision to return to Pikes Peak for the first time since 1987 is exciting.

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For starters, the prototype car VW plans to field at the famed hill-climb event will be an all-wheel-drive, fully electric car wearing what appear to be appropriately wild aerodynamic body addenda. At least that’s what we can tell from the single darkened image that VW has released of the low, sleek car. Volkswagen is chasing the hill-climb record for EVs, which currently stands at eight minutes, 57.2 seconds. The course is 12.4 miles long and rises 4725 feet to the finish line at 14,115 feet.

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Not only does the electric race car need to outdo that course record, though, it also needs to outcool the last car Volkswagen ran up Pikes Peak: a twin-engined Golf that DNF’d in 1987. The automaker’s push to flood its lineup with EVs by 2025—cars that should benefit from development exercises such as this Pikes Peak run—is admirable, but a Golf hatchback with two engines? Those are big shoes to fill.

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