Volkswagen designers are creating even more digitally
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Volkswagen designers’ have been working even more frequently in the form of virtual reality. Many business trips are no longer necessary. This makes designing new cars not only more digital but also more climate friendly.
50 tons of CO2 saved
The digital formats not only enable collaboration during corona times – they are also beneficial to the environment. Take Marco Pavone, for example: “Last year, I took 13 business trips by plane,” he reports. Four times to China, once the USA, twice to Brazil and six times to Barcelona. This brought the total number of flight kilometers to around 133,000, with estimated CO2 emissions of 50 tons. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, he has not taken a single business flight. It is true that online conferences lead to electricity consumption and thus also to CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, the ecological balance sheet is much better than for meetings on other continents.
The designers were helped by the fact that they had already digitized many work steps before the pandemic. One example is the use of data glasses, which designers, engineers and other development partners use to work together in virtual reality. The demand for physical vehicle clay models had also fallen significantly even before Corona. The advantage: faster decisions and savings in the millions.
Now the designers are going one step further: the aim is to design a show car for a motor show next year for the first time using exclusively virtual means. Without an intermediate step via a clay model, the engineers will build the car directly from digital designs. “The 3D world almost feels like reality. We would never have thought this possible in the past,” says Pavone.
Daily life becomes more flexible
For many employees, the possibilities for digital collaboration are an asset. Like many departments, designers currently work predominantly from home and only meet at the workplace for special reasons. Pavone: “Some colleagues are now bringing their children to school and then sit down at the computer. I have no problem with that. Creative ideas don’t come at the push of a button anyway.”
The designers want to use the expanded digital possibilities even after the pandemic. Simply going back is not an issue – the savings in time, costs and climate-damaging emissions are too great. “I assume we will have a mixture of many virtual meetings and some face-to-face encounters,” says Pavone. He is already looking forward to the physical meetings. “After all, we are people.”
Would it be possible in the long term to do without such encounters altogether? Pavone shakes his head. He says: “As good as the digital possibilities are – you can still overlook mistakes. Perfect design can only be created when we see the model outside in sunlight, in the real world. After all, the car will later be driving on real roads – and not on the screen.”