The ID.R

Ambassador of the future

The ID.R is Volkswagen’s first purely electrically-driven racing car and the sporting flagship model of the ID. family, a completely new generation of electrically-driven series models. It took only 250 days from the first drawing to the presentation of the prototype. In 2018, with the Frenchman Romain Dumas at the wheel, the ID.R won the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race in the USA. Further development was carried out on the high-tech racing car, which then went on to set further trailblazing records.

Pioneering for the series

In just over a year, the fully electric ID.R has set four major records which have cemented its place in Volkswagen’s history of motor sport. What is more, the use of the 500 kW (680 bhp) prototype provided valuable findings for the production of the ID. family of models.

Technologies that have been successfully employed in the record-breaking drives with the ID.R are now being incorporated in series production models. As the sporting flagship vehicle of the ID. family, the ID.R accompanies the launch of the ID.31 and the world première of the ID.42, Volkswagen’s first two ID. series models. The ID.3 has been available for order in many European countries since 20 July. The brand expects 1.5 million electric cars to be produced in 2025. Volkswagen is thus underlining its ambitions to become the world market leader in electric mobility.

The ID.R is a research and development laboratory on wheels.
Sven Smeets
Volkswagen Motorsport Director
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets
The Volkswagen ID. family (design sketches)

Technology carrier for the ID. family

The Volkswagen ID.R is not just making an impression on the race track: it also acts as a technology carrier for the new, purely electric models of the ID. family. Motor sport and series production benefited from a mutual transfer of knowledge in the development of the ID.R. “We really benefited from the support of the R&D department when we started the ID.R project in 2017 and had to have the car ready in nine months. We are now giving a lot back, among other things because of our knowledge and expertise in battery and energy management. The ID.R is a research and development laboratory on wheels,” explains Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director.

Aerodynamics as a success factor

The aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle body plays a key role in both motor sport and in series production vehicles. The lower the drag coefficient – also known as the Cd value – the less resistance the moving body of a vehicle has to the air. The aerodynamics of the Volkswagen ID.R were optimised by extensive testing in the wind tunnel and computer simulations.

A design as if shaped by the wind itself

It is important to reduce the air resistance with electric series-production vehicles so as to conserve energy resources. Variable aerodynamic systems are not used here, but the basic objective remains the same: maximum efficiency for a high range performance. The most important factor is a flowing basic body and passenger compartment shape. As is also the case in motor sports, smooth transitions alternate with clear edges. The aim is to ensure that the air flows as closely as possible along the vehicle and then breaks off cleanly – a design shaped by the wind.

Design transfer: the aero wheel

The ID.3 only existed as a show car at the start of development of the ID.R in 2017. This model already had particularly aerodynamically shaped wheels. The ID. family’s “Sanya” wheels are still a strong identifying feature of the range. This wheel design is also used on the ID.R, although the requirements of a motor sports wheel differ greatly from those of a series wheel. However, both wheels have an important factor in common: what is known as the “aero lip” that covers the inside of the wheel edge. “During tests in the wind tunnel we found that this improved the Cd value,” explains Dr. Hervé Dechipre, responsible for the Aerodynamics division at Volkswagen Motorsport. “The air flow around the wheel arches is improved, and air resistance and consumption are reduced. That is totally comparable with the series model.”

Totally comparable with the series model.
Dr. Hervé Dechipre
The responsible Aerodynamics Engineer at Volkswagen Motorsport

Battery technology

There are also parallels between motor sport and series development in terms of battery management. In general, the ID.R electric racing car fares well with significantly less cooling air than racing cars with a conventional drive. Just like the vehicles in the ID. family: they also forego the typical radiator grille and, with their smooth front, convey a uniform appearance.

In electric vehicles, the focus is on correct battery temperature control, and on cooling the electronics and electric motors. For the Volkswagen ID.R, this meant fitting batteries with different performance levels, depending on where the car was being driven, to adapt the capacity to the respective route. And because this is impossible with series cars, different battery configurations are marketed to meet different customer needs in terms of performance and range.

The ID.R technology in detail

Twice the power, no driving emissions: two powerful electric drive motors with a system power of 500 kW (680 bhp) accelerate the Volkswagen ID.R from a standing start to 100 kilometres per hour in under two seconds – that’s faster than a Formula 1 car today.