Industry News

Dieselgate Killed Volkswagen's Incredibly Successful WRC Team

And here we were thinking everything was OK over at VW.

The Volkswagen Group is quietly cutting costs to pay for Dieselgate. It refuses to sell any of its brands so pennies are being pinched in other ways, such as research and development and in racing. The successful Audi World Endurance Championship (WEC) racing program was the first to go, and now Autocar is reporting that Volkswagen’s highly successful World Rally Championship (WRC) team has been killed off. A source told the outlet the decision was made during a board meeting at VW's Wolfsburg headquarters in Germany.

The good news is that the 200 employees of the Volkswagen Motorsport division will be retained, although their efforts will now be focused on the VW Golf TCR (a race-only Golf) and other motorsport activities within the VW Group. This includes possible work on Skoda's rally team. The departure of Volkswagen from WRC is a big blow to the series. The automaker rejoined the series in 2013 and since then its Polo R WRC has captured four straight drivers and manufacturers titles (eight in total). Let's all pour one out for Sébastien Ogier (he of the four drivers titles) and his Polo R WRC. This move is unfortunate but sensible from a corporate standpoint. The development of race-tested hot hatches to sell to consumers isn't all that important to VW nowadays.

The future for the automaker lies in SUVs and EVs, not hatchbacks. As such what's the point of racing them? There may come a time when Volkswagen decides to reenter rally racing, but that won't happen until its Dieselgate bills are paid and its EVs of tomorrow begin rolling off the line

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