Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How VW Made the I.D. R Lightweight

By: Sebastien Bell
You’ve heard by now that VW is going after the electric record at Pikes Peak, but what you might not know is that it will be chasing that record with considerably less horsepower than the car that set the record.
The eO PP100, which set the electric record back in 2016 was making something like 1,600 hp. The I.D. R only makes about 670 hp. 
There are a couple of other areas where it improves over the record holder, though. The VW team went to extreme lengths to cut weight, making the body out of a carbon fiber-kevlar composite and running through countless simulations to ensure that construction was as lightweight as possible.
“Before we actually assembled the I.D. R Pikes Peak, we used computers to analyze a multitude of different configurations,” says Willy Rampf, technical adviser to the project. Every part went through the simulator to make that it was as light as possible, while still being strong enough to contend with the forces exerted through the run.
Even the seatbelts and cushions were made as light as possible, as were Romain Dumas’ racing overalls. In fact, the thread used to attach a Pikes Peak-mandated patch weighs as much as the whole rest of the suit.
After all that, the car only weighs 1,100 kg with the driver in it (about 2,400 lbs), but given the time constraints and a safety system made out of steel and aluminum–rather than the lighter weight titanium that many conventional race cars use–the car only weighs 100 kg (220 lbs) less than the eO PP100 (sans driver).
But racing is about more than just power to weight ratios. Volkswagen’s figures its comparatively low hp figure is its advantage. In electric more power not only means more weight, it means bigger batteries.
By only giving the car 670 hp and requiring it to recover 20% of its energy over the course of the race, it has a relatively compact battery pack that can all be placed alongside and behind the driver (Romain Dumas) meaning that the car will have perfect weight distribution.
Along with the Porsche-aided aero equipment and the expertise of Dumas, who has raced and won at Pikes Peak before, VW is hoping to make it to the top in less than 8:57. Still, with the horsepower deficit, it won’t be an easy feat.

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