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Electric race cars can now outpace petrol-powered ones

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Goodwood, England

CAN electric cars deliver the raw thrills that traditional racing cars do? They can certainly deliver the speed, and more. Volkswagen's I.D. R Pikes Peak has just smashed a record for electric vehicles (EVs) at the Goodwood Hillclimb, defeating all fossil fuel-powered cars on the way to claiming an overall victory.

The 680 horsepower EV aced at last weekend's Goodwood Festival Of Speed, an annual celebration of motor sport that includes a number of competitive events. The most famous of these is a 1.8km-long timed hillclimb, which Volkswagen won after the I.D. R Pikes Peak completed the course in 43.86 seconds.

It broke a five-year record for EVs at the event by 3.48 seconds, and narrowly defeated another EV, the Nio EP9, a battery-powered sports car that can accelerate to 312km/h.

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The fastest petrol-powered car was a BMW 3 Series, powered by a Formula One racing car engine, that finished third.

The hillclimb monster was built to drum up excitement for Volkswagen's upcoming range of electric passenger cars, which will be branded I.D.. VW intends to launch a battery-powered I.D. hatchback next year, and plans to have up to 30 EVs on the market by 2025.

The I.D. R took victory at Goodwood three weeks after winning the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where it set the fastest time in the event's history.

But the overall goodwood hillclimb record is still held by a petrol-powered car. Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld set a time of just 41.6 seconds in 1999, driving a McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 F1 car.

But petrol's reign at the top at Goodwood could be short-lived. Straight after his win this year, the I.D. R Pikes Peak's driver Romain Dumas climbed from his car and said, "We have to come back next year to beat the overall record."