Theelectric crossover is going racing, y’all, and in Baja, no less. The ID 4 will be the first electric production-based vehicle to enter the National Off Road Racing Association Mexican 1000, taking place from April 25 to 29. And yes, I’ll be there documenting the whole thing. Heck, I might even get to drive a stage or two, though veteran racer Tanner Foust will be leading VW’s team.
Not to be confused with the Baja 1000, in which drivers complete 1,000 miles of racing in one fell swoop, the Mexican 1000 is a multiday rally that stretches over 1,141 miles, 893 of them on the rough dirt roads of Baja. The rear-wheel-drive ID 4 can technically get 250 miles of range out of its 82-kilowatt-hour battery, but remember, the desert terrain is far from ideal. Still, the loop race format means the team expects to finish nearly all of the dirt stages without the need to charge. When they do need to add some electricity, the team will have a 50-kW biofuel generator.
The electric powertrain isn’t the only thing that has to survive Baja; the car has to make it through some of the most harsh terrain on Earth. To that end, Volkswagen looked to veteran Baja racer Rhys Millen to beef up the ID 4. In addition to a 2-inch lift, Millen installed upgraded coilover shocks, beefy lower control arms and boxed lower rear links to help the ID 4 withstand the inevitable bumps and bruises. New 18-inch wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolandar 255/70 all-terrain tires provide the traction. Three-eighths-inch skid plates protect the undercarriage and the radiator is raised for a better approach angle and cooling capacity.
The interior is totally stripped out, replaced with a roll cage, racing seats with five-point harnesses and myriad screens to keep track of battery temperatures and remaining power.
Volkswagen is smart to enter the ID 4 in the Mexican 1000, as the logistics are easier than most Baja races. The rally has transit stages on the pavement and overnight stops, making charging more readily available. This is a lessonlearned the hard way last week in the San Felipe 250, when the team realized its Endurance electric pickup truck was getting less range than anticipated and there was no way to get a heavy box truck out on the course to charge. That team gave up after just 40 miles.
Volkswagen has a long history of Baja racing and understands the demanding terrain. The ID 4 probably won’t average more than 15 or 20 mph, but as a class of one, all VW needs to do is finish.