First off, congratulations to Volkswagen. Porsche’s corporate bedfellow’s achievement is nothing short of remarkable. The all electric ID.R is an astonishing technical achievement, and lopped more than forty seconds off the existing lap record for electric vehicles. With a 6 minute 05.336 lap, the electric Volkswagen even bested Stefan Bellof’s fastest-ever competition lap by about 5.5 seconds. Before we consider what this might mean for Porsche, let’s give Volkswagen their due, and watch this lap.
Beyond the speed, what is slightly remarkable about this lap is the noise. The piercing wail of the electric motors isn’t anything like a gasoline engine, but at least on video it sounds significantly louder than the diesel LMP1 cars of a decade ago, like the Audi R10 TDI. Whether or not it’s appealing is another matter, but it is far from silent. The car itself seems to fall somewhere between a modern LMP car and the wildest of World Time Attack cars, with aero that steps far beyond what FIA rules generally permit.
But what does this mean for Porsche? Though remarkable, the ID.R is not yet putting the 919 Hybrid Evo’s lap-time in jeopardy. The hybrid-powered Porsche’s laptime sits more than 45 seconds beyond the all-electric Volkswagen. Part of this is down to power- the Porsche produces 1,150 horsepower, while the Volkswagen makes around 670. The hybrid Porsche is also approximately 400 pounds lighter than the Volkswagen, despite carrying two types of power system.
As technology marches on though, the electric powertrains are bound to get both lighter and more powerful. As the power and weight gap decreases, so too will the Porsche’s performance advantage. There is no reason to assume that the ID.R’s record is the be-all end-all of electric performance, or even that its record will stand for long as technology improves.
What then is the best approach for Porsche? While Porsche has an upcoming line of all-electric production cars, and will be joining the Formula E open wheel series this fall, the brand has not given any inkling of producing an all-electric competition car of this type. Should Porsche be setting their own electric records and hold all the titles, or is this not Porsche’s fight? After all, Porsche’s record did challenge the rest of the world to “be faster.” Let us know in the comments below.