Quick and efficient: VW ID R used a quarter the energy of a gas car for Nürburgring lap

Two months ago, Volkswagen announced it had obliterated the previous EV lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife with its ID R time-attack special. Two months later, after crunching all of the data, the ID R also lays claim to the most efficient lap ever performed.

The ID R used only a quarter the energy of gas-powered cars with similar performance when setting its lap record. In battery energy terms, the electric motors only used 24.7 kilowatt hours worth of energy. For some reference, that’s about the amount of energy a standalone freezer uses in electricity for a month.

Volkswagen ID R at Nürburgring

Volkswagen ID R at Nürburgring

As a refresher, the German speed machine with a thirst for efficiency completed the 12.9-mile lap in only 6:05.336. The previous record stood at 6:45.9. Chinese EV brand Nio set the lap time with its own electric supercar.

VW needed to make sure the ID R was as efficient as possible since the electric race car had only ever run rather short events up until its time at the Nordschleife. To do this, emphasis was placed on the regenerative braking. VW said 9.2 percent of the ID R’s energy actually came from energy recuperated in the braking system alone. Working in concert with the efficiency tricks was a drag-reduction system. The system, much like the one used in Formula One, adjusts the wing when activated to produce the most downforce possible and reduces aerodynamic drag.

Volkswagen ID R Nürburgring

Volkswagen ID R Nürburgring


Not only did the DRS system help the ID R go faster, but it also made the best use of the battery’s charge. Driver Romain Dumas used DRS a total of 23 times during the lap.

Underscoring VW’s mission to campaign a green race car is how the team charged the batteries. A standard generator was the machine of choice to juice of the ID R’s battery packs, but it didn’t run on fossil fuels. Instead, VW converted the machine to run on sugar alcohol, known in the scientific community as glycerin.

Volkswagen ID R at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Volkswagen ID R at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Where the ID R goes next, we don’t know. The electric race car most recently showed up to defend its record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb. It also recently smashed the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record. We should certainly see the green battery-powered machine again as it serves as an ambassador for VW’s future ID electric car models, the first of which is the ID 3 hatch set for a reveal later this year.

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