Volkswagen’s racing days are behind it. The German automaker on Tuesday announced it would cease all motorsports operations in the coming months, though it’s important to spell out that this affects only the Volkswagen brand. Audi, which just revealed plans to enter the Dakar Rally, return to Le Mans and bow out of Formula E, is unaffected, as are the other marques under the Volkswagen Group umbrella.
This will mark the conclusion of the ID.R, an all-electric prototype racecar that has claimed records on several courses around the world, including Pikes Peak and the Nürburgring Nordschleife. As for other engagements, Volkswagen says it has secured a “long-term supply of spare parts” for customer teams running the Polo GTI R5 and Golf GTI TCR, and that it will cease production of the Polo GTI R5 at the end of 2020.
Volkswagen Motorsport employs 169 people, and it’s been confirmed that all of them will transition to new roles in Volkswagen AG dealing with production vehicles, according to the press release:
“The motorsport workforce will be integrated in Volkswagen AG. The deep technical expertise of the motorsport employees and the know-how gained from the ID.R project will remain with the company and will help us put further efficient models from the ID. family on the road”, said Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for the Development Division.
Volkswagen hasn’t been the most active automaker in motorsport in recent years, especially following the Dieselgate scandal. The aftermath of that episode saw the shuttering of multiple racing programs throughout the larger Volkswagen Group, from its own WRC endeavour to the Le Mans efforts of Audi and Porsche. (Audi is now setting up for a return to the top class of endurance racing.)
Still, you could see Volkswagen as a brand dipping its toes back into the water, particularly with more sustainability-minded campaigns like the ID.R project. Ultimately, though, it seems as if the company’s soul searching has led it to concentrate entirely on efficient cars for the road, while leaving the racing for the likes of Audi and Porsche.