At which point did you realise that a breakthrough in electric mobility for everyone is on the horizon?
Just look at the ID.3: it has broken down just about every stereotype of electric mobility. Whether it’s the range, the costs, the design, the suitability for everyday use, the safety or the ever-growing charging infrastructure, we’re very well positioned with the ID.3.
When you look at the project as a whole, what was the biggest challenge you faced?
Alongside all the issues associated with protecting the high-voltage battery (HV battery) in case of an accident, we also focused a great deal on passenger protection in the ID.3. Additional features should further improve the level of safety in the ID.3, which is why we developed an innovative airbag in our Vehicle Safety department: the ‘centre airbag’ inflates between the two front seats and should prevent, for example, the two front-seat passengers from colliding with each other in case of a side impact. The development process was extremely challenging, as the load case in question was new for us and there was very little time available for development.
In detail, what do you think is the most fascinating technology in the new ID.3?
The ID.3 is just as safe in a crash as a conventionally powered car. Its key characteristics include robust structures to protect the HV battery in case of an accident, making the vehicle unbelievably rigid. It demonstrates comparably low overall deformation in our crash tests.
Of course, it’s also worth mentioning the new centre airbag, which is already a standard safety feature in the ID.3.
What pushed you the most as you were developing the ID. range?
I’ve been able to support the project from the very beginning as a vehicle safety engineer. We’re currently in the process of testing the zero series. The most exciting thing for me was the first crash test in September 2018. After we’d spent so much time theoretically developing and planning everything, the moment had finally come to test the prototype in reality for the first time. That was unbelievably exciting and a real highlight.
What have you personally taken away from the project?
Three years ago I would have never thought we’d be able to get everything done on time with such an ambitious schedule, but we did. It’s truly impressive what everyone involved was able to achieve here as a team. The car will definitely forge ahead.
What noticeable benefits have the digital simulation solutions resulted in – i.e. the precalculations of a crash?
We only had seven prototypes at our disposal in development, which we used for the various front, side and rear-impact crashes. It quickly becomes clear that the vehicle structure cannot be developed based on individual crash tests. This is where simulation comes into play, without which the development level of a modern vehicle just wouldn’t be possible. The vehicle structure and restraint systems had thus been intensively designed and optimised in simulation before the first crash test. Simulation helps save lots of time, as the weak points can be identified and corrected early on. Still, physical crash tests are indispensable for protection and approval, especially when it comes to a vehicle as innovative as the ID.3, and that’s not going to change any time in the near future.