“The future of mobility is in our hands because research creates expertise – and expertise creates innovation. In an effort to maintain this lead – or even enhance it – Volkswagen Group Research is fundamentally realigning its international operations”, Dr. Axel Heinrich, Head of Volkswagen Group Innovation, explains. He goes on to say that, “With the comprehensive realignment as Volkswagen Group Innovation with our Centers in Europe, Asia and the US we are adapting and bundling our innovation activities within the company. This enhances our traditional research focus and means we can identify global as well as regional key technologies and disruptions more easily and anticipate the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s customers even faster.”
Reorganisation by mid-2020
All research and innovation activities at the Centers in California, Europe and Asia are bundled under the umbrella of Volkswagen Group Innovation. This creates synergies that provide Volkswagen Group with valuable findings relating to its development towards being a pioneering mobility provider. This international alignment is an important strategic step to also further strengthen our leading role as part of the electric mobility campaign.
Research has been shaping the world of tomorrow for 50 years
Volkswagen’s Research department was established in 1969. Research activities have been setting the course for innovative technologies at an early stage for 50 years now. It is on this basis that technical development creates specific and customer-oriented innovations. Consequently, research is not an end in itself, but the starting point for a technical lead on global markets.
Innovative force: autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, solid-state battery, fuel cell systems, augmented reality and holography
“Assist systems that have already boosted today’s road safety form the basis for soon-to-follow fully autonomously driving vehicles. We are already testing fully automated driving up to level 4 in real conditions in Hamburg today with a specially equipped e-Golf fleet”, Dr. Axel Heinrich explains. “The Development department may now be responsible for the project, but the basic research was done and continues to be carried out by Volkswagen Group Innovation.”
Investment of USD 100 million in newly established company with tech company QuantumScape
In collaboration with Californian technology company QuantumScape Volkswagen Group is paving the way for even more powerful batteries. The aim is a large-scale production of solid-state batteries by 2025. Volkswagen has invested USD 100 million in the newly established joint venture and has consequently become its biggest shareholder. “We are convinced that the longer range, shorter charging times and evident safety of solid-state batteries are the key to the next generation of electric drives”, Dr. Axel Heinrich says.
In addition to solid-state batteries Volkswagen is also further developing the fuel cell in cooperation with renowned US elite university Stanford. The quantity of precious metal used is reduced to make the process more efficient and lower costs. The objective of Group Innovation is to pave the way for a large-scale production.
Research activities consistently contribute to Strategy 2025+
The focus of innovation activities is no longer just on strengthening current core research competencies. To drive forward a sustainable transformation, factors, such as global connectivity and the development of comprehensive and cross-departmental disciplines will be enhanced further. Volkswagen Group Innovation is not only researching the technical fundamentals for vehicles, but also alternative materials, for instance vegan interior equipment or the use of natural materials. Consequently, research is contributing to the TOGETHER 2025+ corporate strategy: “Shaping mobility – for generations to come”.