Volkswagen has set an ambitious goal: to make e-mobility affordable for millions of people. The Volkswagen brand wants to achieve this goal as early as 2020 with the ID. family. The first models will then be available, and more will follow soon. They will optimally exploit the potential of e-vehicles in terms of range, space and dynamics. Volkswagen firmly expects that by 2025, more than one million vehicles of the ID. family will be delivered to customers each year.
Three technology fields play a key role here: a solid charging infrastructure also for longer distances; a unique production platform on which e-cars can be manufactured at competitive prices. And the newly developed battery system, introducing scalable reaches for diverse customer and driving profiles.
But what exactly are those three key fields about? And which advantages do they bring for Volkswagen customers?
First things first: The ID. family comes onto the market with high-performance, scalable batteries that can be configured with different capacities for ranges between 330 and more than 550 kilometers. Every customer can therefore choose the range that suits his or her driving habits. For this purpose, Volkswagen has developed a completely new battery system that is less complex than today's solutions, significantly more powerful, and can be integrated comparatively easily into the ID. models. The result: better customization options. Customers who use their e-car in city traffic receive a lower purchase price. Customers who tend to travel longer distances will get more range if required.
Further advantages of the new battery system include weight optimization (through an aluminum housing), the adaptability of different cell types and integrated cooling. The battery can thus be used to either drive one or two axles. The arrangement of the cell modules can be imagined like a bar of chocolate. This also results in the shape - which in turn ensures that the battery is easy to install. Volkswagen has also been able to increase the charging power up to 125 kW - a previously unrealized value in the ID. segment, which accelerates charging and thus shortens charging stops.
Up to half a million battery systems annually
The battery system is a central element of the modular electric drive system (MEB), the new vehicle architecture that is consistently designed for electric drives. The largest German automobile manufacturer uses its broad experience in the development of all-electric and plug-in models. The battery systems are mainly manufactured at the Volkswagen components plant in Braunschweig. The Group Components division, which is responsible for the drive systems will become an independent division in January 2019. It is currently expanding this location in order to produce up to half a million battery systems annually.
The MEB batteries are constructed as follows: The lowest level is a solid collision protection. Above this is the aluminium battery housing with a crash frame, integrated battery cooling and a connection box for the high-voltage and low-voltage vehicle electrical systems (AC, DC and 12V). The newly developed MEB cell modules, which consist of individual battery cells, are inserted into the battery housing. The cell controllers (CMCe) - control units for monitoring the cells (voltage, currents and temperature) and cell balancing (ensuring equal load of the cells in daily operation) - are installed in the longitudinal member of the battery housing. The battery electronics (BMCe) are integrated in the rear part of the battery system as a further control unit. The cell modules are networked with each other via so-called cell module connectors; measuring lines communicate with the battery electronics. The battery housing is closed at the top with a debase. It can be easily removed for possible maintenance.
The dynamic development of lithium-ion batteries at Volkswagen lays an important foundation for the success of the newly developed generation of ID. electric vehicles that will be produced from 2019 and will be available from 2020. As the first model of the ID. family, the ID. will be launched – an affordable, four-door, fully networked compact car. In September 2016, Volkswagen presented the first I.D. study at the Paris Salon. 24 months later, the all-electric Volkswagen is approaching production readiness at high speed. With scalable ranges at the level of today's petrol engines and the price level of current diesel, the ID. has the potential to initiate the breakthrough for environmentally friendly electric mobility and thus a new drive era.
The MEB makes e-vehicles affordable for many people
The second key facor on the path to e-mobility for millions is the so-called (MEB). With it, Volkswagen will specifically and simultaneously achieve longer ranges, provide more available space and ensure that the entire vehicle is fully digitally connected. “The MEB will redefine the vehicle architecture and really improve the sense of spaciousness. What’s more, all ID. models are being designed for fast charging”, says Christian Senger, Head of model line e-Mobility at Volkswagen. The MEB has also been purposefully developed to ensure swift and efficient production thanks to its “design for manufacturing”. This will enable the Group to achieve huge economies of scale which will in turn make the electric vehicles less expensive and hence affordable for many people.
The range of MEB models will therefore be similar in size to that of current vehicles based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB), arguably the most successful vehicle architecture in use today: around 55 million Group vehicles have been produced on the basis of the first-generation MQB. Volkswagen is now bringing its platform strategy into the age of electric vehicles. The top-of-the-range vehicles based on the globally deployed modular electric drive matrix (MEB) will be large B-segment models with up to seven seats. A zero-emission sport utility vehicle in the style of the ID. CROZZ concept car will be launched in 2020, i.e. the same year as the compact ID. The ID. BUZZ concept car, meanwhile, is paving the way for a zero-emission van from Volkswagen, the design of which is firmly based on the legendary “Bulli” and for which a series production version will be launched in 2022. The avant-garde ID. VIZZION provides a glimpse into the future of sedans. A series production version of the sedan is expected to be available in 2022.
Truly unique selling proposition for Volkswagen
The MEB will not only be the technical matrix for all Volkswagen ID. family models but also for many electric cars of four other Group brands: Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. As such, the MEB will be used across a total of five brands and in three regions of the world, will cover the entire spectrum from compact car to Bulli and will form the technological backbone of more than 10 million Group vehicles in the first wave alone. The systematic platform strategy is a truly unique selling proposition for Volkswagen and also shows how determined the Wolfsburg-based company is to make a success of e-mobility.
Other advantages include weight optimization (on account of the aluminum housing), the adaptability of different battery cell types, and an integrated cooling system. The battery can therefore be used to drive one axles or both axles. As the set-up of the cell modules is arranged in a similar way to a bar of chocolate, the battery is also easy to install. Volkswagen has also managed to increase the charging capacity to 125 kW – a figure never before achieved in the ID.’s segment which will considerably speed up the charging process and hence shorten charging stops.
Simple charging anytime, anywhere
The third key factor of the Volkswagen e-offensive is about the availability of charging possibilities. The key to electromobility becoming established is to create an infrastructure that enables a comprehensive means of charging vehicles to suit their usage scenario: i.e. “refueling” them at home, at public charging stations in cities and (for long journeys) along highways. Volkswagen is developing attractive offerings for all these scenarios.
There are various technical solutions, depending on the situation in which the e-car is charged. For instance, Volkswagen is launching the “Volks-Wallbox” – a station for charging cars at home – together with the ID. It will come in three variants. The first is the low-cost 11-kW AC wallbox which is used for charging batteries gently overnight and takes 5 to 8 hours to fully recharge them. The convenience version also includes attractive means of payment and a connectivity solution that can be used to download, for example, updates and the latest information to the car. The third variant is a 22-kW DC charging station with far shorter charging times. It will completely recharge the battery of the I.D. in 3 to 4 hours.
Ionity, a company co-founded by Volkswagen, is currently building a Europe-wide network of fast-charging stations – HPC (high power charging) stations with a power of up to 350 kW – for long-distance journeys. 400 stations are to be created throughout Europe by 2020, each with two to twelve charging points and most of them directly at highway service stations. Ionity has already acquired partners in 19 countries and is working steadily to expand its offering. The Ionity stations allow the I.D. family to be charged at up to 125 kW, meaning the battery can be recharged by 80 percent in 30 minutes during a typical stop for a break on the highway. That corresponds to a range of 150-260 kilometers, depending on how the car is driven.
Volkswagen is pursuing the same goal with each of these initiatives: To enable simple charging anytime, anywhere. Soon no e-car user will have to worry about whether they can reach the next charging station or the range of their vehicle. Volkswagen is thus making e-cars ready for everyday use in very different scenarios, is helping electromobility escape from its niche existence and is turning it into a true mass technology of the future.
More than a million ID. vehicles to be sold by 2025
Volkswagen is hence taking the lead at an important turning point in the automotive industry. The electric drive and digitalization constitute the beginning of the most profound transformation process that cars have ever undergone since they were invented well over 100 years ago. Vehicle technology and infrastructure are set to undergo radical changes as a result, and value chains will be rearranged as well. The dynamics are extremely clear: global sales of purely electric cars (battery electric vehicles - BEVs) rose by more than 60% last year. In 2018, the threshold of one million newly licensed electric cars could be achieved for the first time ever.
These figures will once again skyrocket as from 2020, as that is when Volkswagen will launch the first models of the new ID. family, beginning with the compact ID., then shortly thereafter an ID. SUV; two zero-emission vehicles with the range of current gasoline engine vehicles. Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand responsible for E-Mobility, says: “We plan to sell around 150,000 electric cars by 2020, including 100,000 ID. and ID. SUV models. The accelerated shift towards e-mobility is also helping us to achieve the very ambitious CO2 targets in Europe, China and the USA.” Sales of the ID. family of vehicles are expected to increase year upon year to more than one million by 2025.