As the driver approaches the vehicle and reaches for the door handle, one of up to three external aerials scans for the radio signal from the matching key. The doors and boot lid do not open until after successful and lightning-fast dialogue of the systems. As soon as the driver takes up his position behind the steering wheel and presses the "Start Engine" button, a maximum of three interior aerials set to work by transmitting radio signals to the key. Once the key has responded positively, the Volkswagen's nerve system comes to life. In future, this process can be made significantly more convenient: The customer will be able to open and start his Volkswagen using a smartphone. "90 years ago, no-one would have thought about innovations such as these", smiles Thomas Schmidt as he closes the door and drives off in his Passat.
"Yard goods" for billions of variants
Control units and distribution systems are seen as the cerebral and neural system of the modern car. They are the control centres and manage the available power reserve. They control the current circuit that is needed in the vehicle for every function.
From a 1920s classic motor vehicle's perspective, technical achievements such as these are a figment of science fiction. But similar to the unique car bodies of the "carrossier" from more than 90 years ago, every car is probably one of a kind these days on account of the diversity of electrical functions for safety, comfort and entertainment – particularly concerning the wiring harness.