Volkswagen Accelerates E-Mobility for the Masses

Individual mobility is on the threshold of a new era: Electric drivetrains and digitalization are set to bring about the most fundamental change the car industry has ever seen.

The sales volume of battery electric cars (BEVs) rose by 60 percent in the past year and 2018 could be the first year that newly registered electric cars reach the one-million mark—a target Volkswagen hopes to hit with the global ID. family by 2025.

“As early as 2020 we intend to sell 150,000 e-cars, of which 100,000 will be the ID. and ID. SUV,” says Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management, E-Mobility division. “Speeding up the shift to e-mobility will help us to meet the extremely ambitious CO2 targets that have been set in Europe, China and the USA.”

Globally, more than six million new Volkswagen vehicles roll out of production plants and onto the road each year. The brand’s scale helps make technical innovations affordable for the masses—and it will be no different for the electric vehicles in the new ID. family. Volkswagen’s aim is to make electric cars attractive to as many people as possible, thus paving the way to mass electric mobility.

“The ID. will prove to be a milestone in terms of technological development, “says Christian Senger, Head of the Volkswagen E-Mobility product line. “It will be the first fully interconnected electric vehicle that is 100 percent suitable for day-to-day use, and millions of people will be able to afford it.”

With the I.D., the I.D. CROZZ, the I.D. BUZZ and the I.D. VIZZION, Volkswagen has already presented four concepts. The development of the vehicle technology is virtually complete, as are the designs of the various models. Contracts with the battery suppliers have been signed. Volkswagen is investing more than one billion euros to prepare its plant in Zwickau for the production of MEB vehicles. The company is also committing itself to developing a comprehensive charging infrastructure. In short: Volkswagen’s e-mobility offensive is taking shape on all fronts.

MEB Architecture

The technological backbone of the ID. family is a newly developed vehicle platform: the modular electric drive matrix or MEB for short. Volkswagen is one of the most successful platform developers in the automotive industry. One example of this is the modular transverse matrix (MQB), probably the most successful vehicle architecture in use at present: around 55 million vehicles are being produced by the Group based on the first generation of MQB. Volkswagen is now applying this same platform strategy to the era of electric vehicles. The MEB is not just the technical building block for all models in the Volkswagen ID. family, but for many electric cars produced by other Group brands, including Audi, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

The MEB has two major unique selling propositions. First, it is not a platform for vehicles with combustion engines that has been retroactively modified. Instead it is a modular assembly matrix designed specifically for pure electric cars, which enables Volkswagen to utilize this technology to maximum effect. Second, the vehicle concept and design can be structured in a more flexible way than ever before—the spectrum ranges from compact cars to SUVs and MPVs. This will enable the Group to achieve economies of scale, thereby making electric cars cheaper and more affordable for many people.

The MEB—designed with purely electric drive systems in mind—enables the size of a vehicle’s wheelbase to be increased while reducing the body overhangs, resulting in more dynamic proportions. In addition to allowing the designers to create a standalone design DNA for the new zero-emissions vehicles, the chassis design leads to much larger and more versatile vehicle interiors.

The zero-emissions drivetrain in the ID. family primarily consists of an electric motor integrated into the rear axle with power electronics and a transmission, a high-voltage flat battery pack installed in the vehicle floor to save space, and auxiliary powertrains integrated into the front end of the vehicle. The power electronics are effectively a link that controls the flow of high-voltage energy between the motor and the battery. The power electronics convert the direct current (DC) stored in the battery into alternating current (AC). Meanwhile, a DC/DC converter supplies the onboard electronics with 12-volt power. The single-speed gearbox transfers the power from the motor to the rear axle. The motor, power electronics and gearbox form a single, compact unit.

The electric motor of the I.D. concept car showcased at the 2016 Paris Auto Show had a power output of 168 hp. The I.D. prototype can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in less than eight seconds, with a top speed of 99 mph. Electric motors offering either more or less power may be considered for the 2020 series version. In parallel to this, the ID. family will feature a range of battery sizes. The battery’s modular layout allows scalable ranges from about 200 miles up to more than 340 miles on the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure) cycle. It is installed centrally in the underbody, which saves space, significantly lowers the center of gravity, and gives an optimal weight distribution of close to 50:50.

The MEB architecture will also enable new assistance, comfort, infotainment, control and display systems to be integrated into vehicles across the board. The I.D. concept presented at the Paris Show, for example, featured an AR (augmented reality) head-up display which projects information such as visual cues from the navigation system into the virtual space in front of the vehicle.

To control the huge range of features on board the ID. models, Volkswagen has designed the completely new end-to-end electronics architecture, called E3, as well as a new operating system, called vw.OS. The new E3 architecture consolidates the control units known across the industry today to create a much more powerful and centralized processor unit. The new operating system will allow Volkswagen to keep the vehicles fresh during their entire lifecycle by making the systems compatible for updates and upgrades accessed via the Cloud.

 

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