Group Research at the headquarters in Wolfsburg is responsible for all the brands of Volkswagen AG. Research assignments and results are coordinated there. Group Research conducts international trend and technology
scouting with their own research satellites for the purpose of strategic alignment in the primary global markets. Along with the ERL in Palo Alto, these include Volkswagen Research Lab China (VRC) and Technical Representative Tokyo (VTT).
Around 100 employees are working on the cars of tomorrow at the ERL, the largest research institution of the Volkswagen Group outside Wolfsburg. Alongside the development of driver assistance systems, the focus is on electric mobility. “In the future, the heart of Volkswagen will also beat with electricity, and our engineers in America, Europe and Asia are laying the foundations for that in the research alliance,” said Winterkorn. The roadmap: The Touareg Hybrid, launched this year, will be followed by the Jetta Hybrid in 2012 and, the year after that, by the E-Up! and the Golf blue-e-motion, either one will also be the first full-electric vehicle by the brand in the United States. Winterkorn: “Volkswagen will be the automaker that will offer the electric car attainable for every customer.”
Within this global alliance for research and advance development, Volkswagen is examining various storage concepts. In the field of lithium-ion technology (li-ion), this means competition between specially developed battery cells and so-called consumer cells known from notebooks and other devices, also called 18650 cells. The ERL in Silicon Valley has been especially assigned the task of examining the battery compound of consumer cells. The ideal packet assembling of battery cells in the automobile, as well as intelligent controls (power electronics) of the stored energy, are to ensure that cruising ranges are as wide as possible.
In the advance development for future e-models of the Volkswagen Group, every single demand made on batteries is being ascertained: this includes their lifetime and corresponding costs, reliability as well as the cruising range and safety of the battery.
The work of the Electronics Research Laboratory, already founded in 1998, is performed clear across all the brands. Hence packet assembling for variants of the Audi eTron is conceived as well as those for variants of the Golf blue-e-motion.
What’s decisive for Volkswagen is the close, worldwide cooperation and networking of the expert groups. Thus building prototypes and the joint assessment of performance and specification in automobiles takes place in direct comparison with other battery concepts from the research alliance.
The investments required for development, especially in the field of e-mobility, stand on sound economic grounds, Winterkorn emphasized in Palo Alto. The operational result in the first five months of the ongoing year has developed better than expected; the same is true for the Group’s vehicle sales. Deliveries in the first half of 2010 increased to over 3.5 million vehicles (first half of 2009: 3.1 million), corresponding to a plus of around 15 percent. The Volkswagen brand has plainly exceeded the 2-million threshold in terms of deliveries in the same time period, increasing the value of the previous year (1.9 million vehicles) likewise by around 15 percent.
The company is expecting a better growth than the market as a whole for all of 2010 and a new delivery record. “Our path to global leadership also leads through the United States, because we have considerable growth opportunities here,” concludes Winterkorn. “Our goal is to turn Volkswagen into the leading volume brand here as well.”