Volkswagen ID. R uses DRS Formula 1 technology for Nürburgring run

Volkswagen has set itself a new challenge with the ID. R this year – the Nürburgring-Nordschleife instead of Pikes Peak. A race track instead of a hill climb. Full-throttle sections instead of hair-pins. Because of this, the fully electric-powered ID. R has been continuously developed with respect to its aerodynamics.

“Though almost identical in length at roughly 20 kilometres, the Nordschleife presents a completely different challenge for aerodynamics in comparison to the hill climb at Pikes Peak,” says François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director of Volkswagen Motorsport. “In the USA it was all about maximum downforce, but because the speeds are a lot higher on the Nordschleife, the most efficient possible battery use is of much greater importance with regard to the aerodynamic configuration.”

On the Nordschleife, it is not primarily about downforce, but low drag as well. Furthermore, the air in the Eifel, which sits about 600 metres above sea level, is much denser in comparison to Pikes Peak, where the finish line is 4,302 metres high. “This results in completely different basic data for the measurements of the aerodynamic aids,” explains Hervé Dechipre, the engineer responsible for the ID. R’s aerodynamics.

As well as an adapted floor and a new spoiler at the front of the vehicle, the ID. R will also sport a newly designed rear wing. It will be much lower than the variant used at Pikes Peak, in order to provide less surface resistance to the flow of air. The new multi-wing rear of the ID. R will nevertheless produce high downforce in the medium-fast turns of the 73-corner Nordschleife.

A difference to Formula 1: saving energy instead of overtaking

To further reduce the drag in certain sections, the rear wing will deploy technology known from its use in Formula 1 – the so-called Drag Reduction System (DRS). In the pinnacle class of motorsport, DRS is used in order to facilitate overtaking by allowing for higher speeds. During the ID. R’s solo-drive, however, the opening element of the rear wing will be used exclusively to preserve the remaining energy reserves. “Between when the rear wing is fully deployed and when it is flat, the difference in downforce is about 20 per cent,” explains Dechipre.

DRS will be particularly significant when the ID. R reaches the ‘Döttinger Höhe’, an almost three-kilometre-long straight at the end of the Nordschleife lap. “With an activated DRS, the car requires less energy to maintain its top speed over the entire Döttinger Höhe,” says Dechipre. “The ID. R reaches its top speed quicker and with a lower use of energy.”

With the ID. R as the racing spearhead of the future fully-electric production vehicles from the ID. family, the high potential of electric drive is combined with the emotion and fascination of motorsport. In this respect, there are not only technical, but aesthetic parallels as well. Similar to the future production vehicles from the ID. family, the ID. R also requires comparatively few openings in the bodywork to allow cooling air to flow. “The electric motors operate with little cooling,” says Dechipre. “The ID. R therefore requires fewer air intakes than conventional race cars, which brings with it a great aerodynamic benefit.”

Tests in wind tunnel with models and the actual vehicle

As with the preparations for the record-breaking outing at Pikes Peak last year, Volkswagen has tested the ID. R’s aerodynamics in the wind tunnel – initially with a 1:2 model. The next step was to continue this detailed work with the original sized race car. “By doing this, we could simulate the movements of the ID. R when braking or steering, as well as the resulting changes in aerodynamics,” describes Dechipre.

In order to be able to test as many variants as possible of the aerodynamic components that were also constructed using computer simulations, Volkswagen Motorsport once again took advantage of 3D printing. As a result, particularly complex designed plastic vehicle parts (that undergo only minimal loads) can be made in a short time and with high cost savings. “A good example of this is the air deflectors in front of the rear wheel arch, which optimise the airflow around the rear wheel,” says Dechipre.

On the high-speed sections of the 20.832-kilometer Nordschleife, these can make all the difference to the ID. R’s ability to undercut the existing electric lap record of 6:45.90 minutes, and thereby lay down a clear statement as to the performance capabilities of electric drive from Volkswagen.

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VW increase stake in solid-state batteries with $100M investment

Volkswagen will increase its stake in the California technology company QuantumScape Corporation and form a new joint venture.

VW says it is paving the way for the next level of battery power for long-range e-mobility. Dr. Axel Heinrich, Head of VW Group Research, who will take a seat on the board of directors of QuantumScape, says: “We want to accelerate the commercialization of QuantumScape’s solid-state batteries. And we combine forces to leverage Volkswagen’s experience as a production specialist and QuantumScape technology leadership. Volkswagen is thus taking another step toward a sustainable, zero emission mobility for our customers in the future.” Volkswagen will invest 100m USD in US-based QuantumScape and will become the innovative enterprise’s largest automotive shareholder. Closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

Since 2012, Volkswagen Group Research has already been collaborating closely with the Stanford spin-off. Based on the significant technical progress that this cooperation has made, QuantumScape and Volkswagen will work together within a newly formed joint venture with the aim to enable an industrial level of production of solid-state batteries. One of the long-term targets is to establish a production line for solid-state batteries by 2025.

“Volkswagen is the world’s largest automotive manufacturer and leads the industry in its commitment to electrification of its fleet,” says Jagdeep Singh, CEO of QuantumScape. “We are thrilled to be chosen by Volkswagen to power this transition. We think the higher range, faster charge times, and inherent safety of QuantumScape’s solid-state technology will be a key enabler for the next generation of electrified powertrains.”

Founded in 2010, QuantumScape is headquartered in San José, California and holds approximately 200 patents and patent applications for solid-state battery technology. Its deep expertise makes the company a leading pioneer in the development of this form of energy storage. “The solid-state battery will mark a turning point for e-mobility”, says Axel Heinrich of Volkswagen Group. “By increasing our stake in QuantumScape and forming the joint venture we strengthen and deepen our strategic cooperation with an innovative partner and secure access to the promising QuantumScape battery technology for Volkswagen.”

Solid-state battery cell technology is seen as the most promising approach for the e-mobility of the future. For example, a solid-state battery would increase the range of the E-Golf to approximately 750 kilometers compared with the present 300 kilometers. This battery technology has further advantages over the present lithium-ion technology: higher energy density, enhanced safety, better fast charging capability and – above all – they take up significantly less space. A solid-state battery of the same size as a current battery package can achieve a range comparable to that of conventional vehicles. While the approach has a lot of promise, advances have been difficult to attain and no other battery supplier has been able to achieve automotive performance. Volkswagen successfully tested QuantumScape early-stage solid-state battery sample cells in Germany running at automotive rates of power—an industry first.