More than 100 experts are turning a great idea into a reality at Steimker Gardens. They are generating momentum for new forms of mobility and technologies.
Vehicles that gather data and communicate with one another will travel down the street. Every owner of an electric car will have a charging option at his or her disposal. And those people who do not own their own cars will simply share one. Or they will hop onto their e-bike because their smartphone has informed them that this is the fastest way to reach their destination. Are we talking here about some distant world of the future? Not at Steimker Gardens. This world will soon be a reality here.
The construction site that will eventually become the residential area called Steimker Gardens looks much like any other building location right now. Most of structural work below ground level has been completed. The first bricks for the building will be laid in just a few weeks. There is nothing at this 22 hectare site in southeastern Wolfsburg that makes you believe that something special, something exceptional is taking shape here.
At least not yet, Phillip Schmitz says.
“We will soon see many things at this very site that you won’t see elsewhere for the next few years.”
Phillip Schmitz is an employee of Volkswagen Immobilien (VWI), the real-estate subsidiary of the Group. Schmitz and his team are handling the planning and development of the residential area. As a result, they are implementing a great idea, to which more than 100 experts from the Volkswagen Group and other partners have contributed their knowledge and experience.
Autonomous driving, electric mobility, digitalization, connectivity and smart traffic management systems: “We will experience all of this here in a modern, comfortable residential area earlier than elsewhere. Steimker Gardens will be something like a real-life lab where the residents and we can jointly gain some experience with new forms of mobility, technologies and services.”
What do people expect from the city?
How do they want to live in the future? How should public areas, infrastructure, mobility offerings and services be designed? Volkswagen’s Group Research is providing some valuable insights. “Colleagues from the Department of Future Research and Trend Transfer have really helped us to better understand people’s future mobility needs and to meet demand in Steimker Gardens,” Phillip Schmitz says.
Data networks, infrastructure for electric mobility and mobility services: Steimker Gardens, where around 1,250 housing units will be finished in more than two years, are venturing into new dimensions in these three areas.
For optimal traffic flow, autonomous vehicles need reliable real-time information delivered over a secure and stable network in order to rapidly share data with other vehicles on the road. The next generation of mobile phone networks – 5G – will be designed to facilitate this in Steimker Gardens as early as possible. Public WLAN and fiber optic cable in every house will complement the data infrastructure.
Owners of e-vehicles will charge them with their own wall box located in the underground garage or with faster public charging stations when they are pressed for time. As part of the city’s ambitious plans, electric buses will travel the so-called green route – on a special lane. The electricity will be produced at convenient locations, using systems like photovoltaic units. Storage batteries will offset fluctuations in the VWI's own electrical grid, a system that was developed by VW Kraftwerk and LSW, the local electric utility.
Car- and bike-sharing, mobility on demand, smart parking systems, shuttle services and ride-sharing – a broad range of mobility and logistical services is in the works. Cars and public transportation, e-bikes and bicycles: All forms of transportation are connected to one another. Digital services will tell people how they can reach their destinations most conveniently and cheaply. They will also facilitate simple booking and transparent billing of mobility and parking services. The heart of this operation will be the mobility hub that Volkswagen Financial Services plans to operate: Every one can learn about the services here and see how to use them.
The residential area and its more than 2,500 future residents will provide the impetus for new forms of mobility. And for the services that will fuel this developmental work. Wolfsburg, the home of the Volkswagen Group, is especially well-suited for this work, Phillip Schmitz says. “The reason is simple: A state-of-the-art vehicle fleet will be used here – one that will be highly digitalized in the future and will most likely have a high percentage of electric cars. We will learn a lot here. We will be able to apply this knowledge in our residential area and share it with others.” Steimker Gardens are a key part of the initiative called #WolfsburgDigital, a project being conducted jointly by the City of Wolfsburg and Volkswagen.
Testing of technologies and services forms a framework – in which people are placed in the center. Quality of life will be improved when connected cars and the smart traffic management system are able to do such things as help drivers find parking spaces in congested areas. And residents will then have more time to savor a cup of coffee in their cozy homes and enjoy the afternoon sun. Phillip Schmitz: “The world may be becoming increasingly more complex: But people should notice as little of it as possible.”