Volkswagen To Axe Nearly All Internal Combustion Motorsport Programs

Volkswagen's heavy bet on electrification will see it shift its racing focus to EVs.

As Volkswagen invests heavily in its production EV future, the German automaker will transition away from internal combustion and toward electric powertrains in its motorsport endeavors, as well. The company is preparing to cancel all of its factory internal combustion racing programs save for one: the recently announced VW Atlas Cross Sport R race truck, which will enter the famously grueling 2020 Baja 1000 off-road race in the Open Production Unlimited class.

“Volkswagen Motorsport broke new ground with the ID.R, and with its records around the world it demonstrated the enormous potential of electric drive,” says Volkswagen’s board member in charge of technical development, Dr. Frank Welsch. “Now is the time for the next step towards the future: in motorsport, Volkswagen is resolutely committing to e-mobility and will say goodbye to factory-backed commitments using internal combustion engines.”

Volkswagen’s commitment to electric motorsport endeavors will extend to its customer motorsport programs, too. Production of the VW Golf GTI TCR touring car will cease at the end of this year, and no successor will be developed, although parts and service will continue to be offered to customer racing teams.

That said, VW will continue to build the Polo GTI R5 (inset) for rally racing, supplying the car to customer racing teams, but without any factory-backed World Rally Championship effort.

In the future, Volkswagen will focus its motorsport development efforts on working its modular electric MEB platform into new motorsport vehicles. Summarizing the mentality behind the shift in focus, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets says “[e]lectric mobility offers enormous development potential, and in this regard motorsport can be a trailblazer: on the one hand, it serves as a dynamic laboratory for the development of future production cars and, on the other, as a convincing marketing platform to inspire people even more towards electric mobility.

“That is why we are going to focus more than ever on factory-backed electric drive commitments and continue to expand our activities with the development of the MEB. Innovative technology relevant to the car of the future is our focus.”