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Volkswagen underscores e-mobility research

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:e-mobility? electric vehicles? automotive?

In a move to coordinate its globally distributed e-mobility R&D activities, Volkswagen announced its intention to bundle its advanced research efforts for electric vehicles. The company's US-based Electronics Research Lab focuses on battery technology.

Outside its main R&D department in Wolfsburg (Germany), the automotive OEM runs a trend and technology scouting program with dedicated R&D satellites for all of its brands. Besides Volkswagen's Technical Representative Tokyo (VTT) and the Volkswagen Research Lab China (VRC), the company's Electronics Research Lab (ERL) in Palo Alto (California) with about 100 researchers is VW's most important R&D activity outside of Germany.

In addition to driver assistance systems derived from VW's participation in earlier DARPA autonomous driving projects, the ERL focuses mainly on electric driving. "In the future, Volkswagen's heart will also beat electrically," said VW CEO Martin Winterkorn during a visit at ERL this week. "Our engineers in America, Asia and Europe lay the groundwork for this technology in a joint effort."

With respect to e-mobility, the ERL conducts research works regarding future Li-ion battery concepts. In particular, the ERL engineers examine battery compounds of so called 18650 cells. These batteries have been developed for laptop computers in the first place but are used in many e-cars since they (still) are cheaper than Li-ion batteries designed for automotive drives. ERL research activities gyrate around finding the ideal combination and packetizing these batteries for automotive use. Another important R&D topic in the Palo Alto lab is advanced development of power electronics for electric vehicles. The research activities include battery lifespan, cost, reliability, safety and driving range.

Besides several HEVs, the company plans to roll out the E-Up as its first all-electric vehicle in 2013. Volkswagen group member Audi plans the introduction of its e-tron electric sports car a year earlier.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automotive DesignLine

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