Research and Development

The Volkswagen Group’s research and development activities continued to concentrate on expanding our product portfolio and improving the functionality, quality, safety and environmental compatibility of our products in fiscal year 2014.

Focus of our research and development activities

We plan to cut the average CO2 emissions of the Volkswagen Group’s new European passenger car fleet to 120 grams per kilometer by 2015. We have already succeeded in reducing CO2 emissions over the past five years by 25 grams of CO2 per kilometer to 126 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Since 2012, the CO2 emissions for vehicle manufacturers’ new European passenger car fleets have been regulated by law: for 2014, the emissions of 80% of the new vehicle fleet were not permitted to exceed the statutory level of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The figure for the Volkswagen Group in the reporting period was 115 grams of CO2 per kilometer. We currently offer a total of 532 model variants (engine-transmission combinations) that emit less than 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer. For 416 model variants, we are already below the threshold of 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Of these, 85 model variants are even below 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer (see chart on the end of this page).

in grams per kilometer

Recognizing new developments in society, politics, technology, the environment and the economy at an early stage is of core importance to Volkswagen, since these form an important basis for innovations and our business success. Volkswagen’s Group Research function constantly addresses the latest trends and has established research offices in the key global automotive markets. Research offices in China, Japan, the USA and other locations observe technological areas relevant to the automotive industry, conduct cooperative projects with research institutions and local companies, and thus capture new insights for the Volkswagen Group.

In addition to drivetrain system electrification (see the section entitled “Fuel and drivetrain strategy”), development work in 2014 focused on connectivity, i.e. the link between the vehicle and its surrounding environment. The speed at which the functionality and market penetration of networked online systems are growing makes it increasingly important for vehicles to be able to network to the driver’s own devices, to other vehicles and to their surrounding environment, particularly infrastructure. This increasing functionality is accompanied by new types of display and control concepts. The shift towards replacing buttons and switches with touchscreen displays and recognition sensors is continuing, and is reflected in our vehicles.

One of the Audi brand’s most important development areas is piloted driving. Driver assistance should make the job easier whenever it makes sense – not just when maneuvering in tight parking spaces or in parking lots, but also for example in slow-moving traffic on the highway. Once the necessary conditions (e.g. the legal basis) are in place, functions like these could go into series production in the next few years. Audi has shown what the technology can already do: the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept completed a lap of the Hockenheim Grand Prix track in the reporting period at racing speeds of up to 240 km/h – without a driver. The results of this test are being integrated into the development of series models and are helping to increase the safety and comfort of future vehicles.

Volkswagen introduced innovative LED systems for front and rear lighting in the volume segment in 2014, making the technology available to a broader customer base. The latest LED tail light is the first in the world to have an integrated animated brake light function, which increases perception speed. A compact projection model means that the new, highly functional LED headlights incorporate lights for country driving, urban areas and highways, dynamic curve lighting and, with the use of a camera, a dynamic high-beam assistant. Volkswagen will systematically continue to implement LED technology (including the masked high beam “Dynamic Light Assist”) in the volume segment; introduction in the compact class is scheduled for 2015.

Body shell production remains a strategic development focus. Volkswagen is the first automobile manufacturer to use hot-formed, high-strength steels in series models. We are also pursuing a vehicle- and platform-specific composite material approach in this area, i.e. the use of diverse materials in a body shell. We are also systematically integrating our extensive experience with lightweight materials, in particular aluminum, into the Modular Transverse Toolkit (MQB). Volkswagen has developed and patented resistance element welding for the application of these materials. This new technique is used to bond different materials to steel. Aluminum is also increasingly being used in the development of new platforms on which vehicles such as the Touareg and Phaeton are based. We are also researching into economical lightweight construction technologies for series production as part of the Open Hybrid LabFactory public-private partnership in collaboration with the Lower Saxony Research Center for Vehicle Technology (NFF) at the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and various other industry partners. The aim is to have around 200 researchers from industry and science jointly developing hybrid lightweight structures by the end of 2015. The foundation stone for the new development center in Wolfsburg was laid in 2014.

Innovations capture our customers’ imaginations

The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand unveiled a wide range of innovations in the reporting period with the launch of the MQB-based eighth generation Passat. The new model is the world’s first car to be available with the Emergency Assist and Trailer Assist safety and assistance systems. Emergency Assist brings together Lane Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) to form a new driver assistance system: as soon as the sensors detect that the driver is not steering, braking, or accelerating, the system makes an escalating sequence of attempts to wake the driver before bringing the car to an emergency stop. The hazard lights are automatically activated and the Passat executes gentle steering maneuvers to warn nearby traffic of the danger. The ACC system observes the traffic ahead to prevent a collision. With the Passat, Volkswagen is the world’s first automobile manufacturer to launch a driver assistance system to make maneuvering a vehicle with a trailer easier. Trailer Assist uses a rear view camera to observe and analyze the trailer’s hitch articulation angle, and to calculate the steering angle. The rearview mirror adjustor control doubles as a joystick, which the driver can use to change the car/trailer combination’s driving direction, meaning that all the driver needs to do is operate the brake and gas pedals. Inside the Passat, the Active Info Display system is the first interactive, fully digital instrument cluster to be fitted in a Volkswagen. The instruments are displayed in virtual format only. The speedometer and tachometer display areas can be customized to include information on driving, navigation and assistance functions. The Active Info Display can also show data from the infotainment system, such as telephone contact images or album covers. In 2015, the new Passat will also become the first Volkswagen to be equipped with a head-up display. This projects key information such as speed or navigation images onto a retractable glass surface in front of the windshield – directly in the driver’s line of view. To the driver’s eyes, the data appear to be projected roughly two meters in front of the vehicle. This means that there is far less need to switch between looking at the instruments and looking at the road, reducing the rate at which the driver’s eyes become fatigued. The Traffic Jam Assist, the enhanced Area View system and an expanded City Emergency Braking function with pedestrian detection round off the Passat’s driver assistance systems. The new Passat’s range of engines also includes new innovations: the plug-in hybrid GTE version combines a 115 kW (156 PS) TSI engine and an 85 kW (115 PS) electric motor to generate a system output of 160 kW (218 PS). In all-electric driving, the Passat GTE can cover up to 50 km, with a total range of more than 1,000 km.

The e-Golf and Golf GTE introduced e-mobility into Volkswagen’s popular series in 2014, heralding a new chapter in the Golf’s distinguished track record. Fitted with an 85 kW (115 PS) electric motor, the e-Golf consumes 12.7 kWh per 100 km (NEDC), making it the most efficient electric vehicle in its class. Its inbuilt lithium-ion battery gives it a range of up to 190 km. The e-Golf also comes with an optional heat pump for particularly energy-efficient heating. This utilizes both heat from the ambient air and the heat given off by the drive system components. The energy from the high-voltage battery that this saves helps increase the car’s range. The plug-in hybrid Golf GTE is a zero-emission, long-distance sports car all in one. A 110 kW (150 PS) TSI engine and a 75 kW (102 PS) electric motor combine to create a new driving experience and a top speed of 222 km/h. The transmission uses a six-speed, dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) specially developed for hybrids. Fully-charged, the Golf GTE can cover up to 50 km in all-electric driving, with an overall range of approximately 940 km. With average combined fuel consumption of just 1.5 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of 35 g/km, it sets new standards in efficiency and sustainability.

Audi also launched a plug-in hybrid in 2014: the Audi A3 e-tron. Combining the strengths of an electric drive system with the advantages of an internal combustion engine, the first premium compact car to be equipped with this innovative drive system is perfectly suited to daily use. A state-of-the art 110 kW (150 PS) TFSI engine and a 75 kW (102 PS) electric motor generate system power of 150 kW (204 PS). Its combined average fuel consumption is 1.5 l/100 km, with CO2 emissions of 35 g/km.

In addition, the Audi brand unveiled the third generation of the Audi TT in the reporting period. The profile of the design icon was systematically enhanced: the roof line was tightened, the wheelbase lengthened and the overhangs shortened, making the new TT even sportier and more dynamic than its predecessor. But the newest generation also scores points in terms of efficiency: the vehicle weight has been reduced by 50 kg, helping set new standards in the sports car class with CO2 emissions of 110 g/km.

Porsche launched the Macan compact SUV in fiscal year 2014: its fifth series. The Macan’s sporty sloping roof line is reminiscent of a coupé, and combined with a wraparound bonnet gives it a confident and powerful appearance. Its rear features eye-catching, three-dimensional LED taillights, while the interior exudes sporty elegance and high-quality materials. An efficient range of engines rounds off the vehicle concept. The new 911 Targa was another highlight for Porsche in 2014. Like the legendary original Targa of 1965, it features a characteristic fixed bar in place of a B pillar. At the press of a button, the rear window opens and the roof panel disappears automatically behind the back seats. It takes only 19 seconds to open or close this innovative roof.

Lamborghini premiered the Huracán, the replacement for its successful Gallardo, in 2014. The sharp-edged design of the Huracán, whose innovative light-weight chassis is made of carbon and aluminum elements, focuses on a continuous line from the front to the rear of the vehicle. The 449 kW (610 PS) V10 engine catapults the Huracán from 0 to 100 km/h in only 3.2 seconds. Its top speed is over 325 km/h.

Scania presented the third generation of its efficient Euro 6 engines with SCR (selective catalytic reduction) exhaust gas aftertreatment in the reporting period. The improved Scania retarder (a key component of the integrated braking system) with new fuel-saving freewheeling function and the new version of Scania’s Eco-Roll system, which now selects gears even more intelligently on downward slopes, are also available from 2014. Scania also demonstrated the further savings potential offered by the use of new low-viscosity oils with unique lubricating qualities.

The new MAN TGX EfficientLine 2, which has been specifically designed to reduce fuel consumption, comes with the full range of efficiency technologies. These include in particular the EfficientCruise GPS cruise control system, the TopTorque torque enhancer and the latest version of MAN TeleMatics for data exchange between the vehicle and dispatcher. EfficientCruise was unveiled in 2014. This GPS-based system controls the speed of trucks or buses and helps save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions. The TGX EfficientLine 2 is more than 6% more fuel-efficient than its predecessor.

MAN presented the MAN 12V175D, the first variant of its new high speed engine series, in fiscal year 2014. The 12-cylinder engine is fully designed for the requirements of commercial shipping and is optimized for use in ferries, offshore supply vessels, tugboats and all-purpose vessels. The engine also scores points in environmental friendliness: its compact and modular exhaust gas aftertreatment system uses selective catalytic reduction and is based on MAN’s Ad Blue technology.

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