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Volkswagen is (almost) fully electrifying its racecars

VW ditches its factory rally efforts and Golf TCR car... but not Baja

Volkswagen, no stranger to quitting motorsport series in recent years, is further trimming down its race commitments. At least those powered by old fashioned fossil fuels.

Three years after its big WRC exit, its Polo R5 rally car – only recently launched – will remain in production but there’ll be no factory-backed team, though customers who buy an R5 will get parts support.

The Golf TCR touring car, meanwhile, will see its production cease in 2019, “and a successor based on the new generation will not be offered” we’re told. Aka the Mk8 Golf will not come in TCR form, at least not one that runs on petrol. VW hasn’t hinted at anything, but you’d suspect an eTCR would be right up the street of its switch to electrified motorsport.

“In motorsport, Volkswagen is resolutely committing to e-mobility and will say goodbye to factory-backed commitments using internal combustion engines,” says VW board member Dr Frank Welsch.

Cupra’s all set to make an eTCR racer, so it’d seem remiss of VW not to as well. Though perhaps a touring car based upon the ID.3 would shout the electric message even stronger.

“On the one hand, motorsport 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,” says VW motorsport boss Sven Smeets. “Innovative technology relevant to the car of the future is our focus.”

So where, we hear you ask, does last week’s reveal of a WRC-engined Atlas Cross Baja racer fit in all of this? “Even though a race programme might seem to stray away from Volkswagen’s commitment to the environment and meeting the goals of the 2050 Paris Climate Accord,” reads the bumf, “the Baja programme will be fully carbon neutral thanks to a carbon offset initiative via The Conservation Fund. This will plant more than 1,000 trees, or one per mile raced.”

Um, yeah. A slightly mixed message, we’d argue. But if the Volkswagen ID.R’s wealth of records are anything to go by, VW does at least know how to make an EV go quickly. Excited?

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