VOLK­SWA­GEN'S VI­SION FOR THE FU­TURE

Volk­swa­gen has some fan­tas­tic ideas of what lies ahead in the fu­ture of mo­tor­ing. Here are just a few of them

Evo India - - ANALYSIS -

THE FU­TURE IS ELEC­TRIC, whether you like it or not. Gov­ern­ments, the auto industry and even con­sumers are mak­ing a huge push to­wards elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. It’s the big­gest rev­o­lu­tion in mo­bil­ity since the in­ven­tion of the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine, and this shift throws up a whole lot of ques­tions — some of them ques­tion­ing the very fun­da­men­tals of cars as we know them. We were part of a small group of peo­ple that got in­sight in to Volk­swa­gen’s plans for the fu­ture. Not only did they re­veal to us more about elec­tric cars, but also into au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles and how they will com­pletely re­de­fine the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The ap­proach to the fu­ture is two pronged — with elec­tric cars be­ing de­vel­oped on a pri­or­ity ba­sis, to get them ready for mass pro­duc­tion while au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles are be­ing de­vel­oped in par­al­lel with the time­line for their pro­duc­tion hav­ing a lot to do with gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions. Here’s what we know so far: Tool­kit (MEB) plat­form is fully op­ti­mised for cheap but ef­fec­tive mass pro­duc­tion of elec­tric cars. It es­sen­tially has wheels at four cor­ners and a floor-mounted slab of bat­ter­ies — pic­ture a skate­board. The mo­tors are in­te­grated in to the axles and any body style can be built over it — it frees up so much room for the de­sign­ers, they are no longer con­strained by en­gines and trans­mis­sions. Case in point: the ID range. The plat­form is sim­i­lar to a Golf size car, but the fact that there’s no en­gine, it will be as spa­cious as a Pas­sat. It will be launched in Europe in 2020 be­cause by then, VW can op­ti­mise it to be priced sim­i­lar to a stan­dard diesel Golf. Bat­tery tech will have moved ahead and more charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture will be in place as well.

VW ex­pect to have 25 per cent of its sales by 2025 com­ing from purely elec­tric cars, and a large por­tion of the re­main­ing 75 per cent to have some form of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion — plug in hy­brids, mild hy­brids, the works. By 2030, they ex­pect 50 per cent of all sales to be elec­tric. Dr Ul­rich Eich­horn, head of the VW Group’s R&D be­lieves that by 2025, peo­ple’s per­cep­tions would see a par­a­digm shift as well. Elec­tric cars will be the norm, while con­ven­tional cars will be looked at as un­nec­es­sary. 50 bil­lion eu­ros pur­chas­ing bat­ter­ies! In 2025, they’re going to need four fac­to­ries as big as Tesla’s Gi­gafac­tory to deal with their de­mand. At least for the next few years, Volk­swa­gen will con­tinue pur­chas­ing bat­ter­ies from sup­pli­ers in Ja­pan, China and Korea and will not man­u­fac­ture them in-house. They don’t even buy them as in­di­vid­ual cells, but as pre-as­sem­bled mod­ules, which they pack­age in to a bat­tery pack.

These MEB cars will be any­where be­tween 400-600km depend­ing on how you spec them, but ques­tions still arise about charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture. VW says that the onus of build­ing in­fra­struc­ture lies 50:50 with the industry and the gov­ern­ment. The type of charg­ers can vary — any­thing from a lamp­post equipped with charg­ers to full blown charg­ing sta­tions. Charger tech is also get­ting bet­ter — VW is de­vel­op­ing a 350kW charger that can sup­ply 350km worth of juice in 10 min­utes. The tech is not quite ready yet and we wont see it be­fore 2022, but it is com­ing. They also es­ti­mate that for a sen­si­ble level of mo­tori­sa­tion, four charg­ing sta­tions are re­quired per 1000 in­hab­i­tants. This will be a chal­lenge in a coun­try like In­dia, but we’ve over­come big­ger hur­dles with the ICE and this will even­tu­ally be over­come as well.

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