Although making your propulsion electric solves one of the problems presented by the altitude of Pikes Peak, it still only solves one of the problems.

Aerodynamicists face serious problems at altitude because the air becomes less dense the higher up you go (that’s why naturally aspirated engines struggle so much high up: there’s less oxygen). But the other issue with less-dense air is that it makes aero elements less effective.

It makes sense when you think about. Less air density, less stuff to push you down, which in turn means that you get less grip through the corners.

That’s why Volkswagen Motorsport had to spend so long in the wind tunnel when it was designing the I.D. R.


To start, they designed a ½ scale model to figure out which pieces worked the best and how to maximize downforce. According to aerodynamicists, it takes many small countless small improvements to make a lot of downforce without being subject to cross winds and the highly variable nature of reality.

That means testing a lot of different setups, and that means a lot of 3D printing. In fact, the team printed almost 2,000 pieces for the project to make sure the ID R will be as stuck to the ground as possible when it hits Pikes Peak in June.