What pushed you the most as you were developing the ID. range?
The ID. range in general and the ID.3 in particular will significantly influence the look of the brand! This is because all of these purely electric vehicles have their own design language. It was fascinating to watch these forms and lines evolve from the initial sketches through to the full-sized model. Over time, we incorporated various wheel designs that pick up on this new design language and ideally also further develop it. The cars should nonetheless be instantly recognisable as ‘typically Volkswagen’ – logical, pure, sensual with attention to detail and technically sophisticated. My personal highlight here is our ‘aero look’ wheel based on the electric ID.R racing car.
At which point did you realise that a breakthrough in electric mobility for everyone is on the horizon?
The amount of work that Volkswagen put into developing and marketing this and the earnestness with which they did so, and also the large number of purely electric production vehicles that the Group as a whole has got up and running, some of which were prepared by us, demonstrate that electric cars are no longer a niche market and will soon be run of the mill within society. In addition, the feedback we have received, including from our colleagues in China, tells us we are certainly on the right track.
In detail, what do you think is the most fascinating technology in the new ID.3?
I personally love the IQ.Light headlights because they are the first in the history of Volkswagen to respond intelligently to their surroundings – including people. And the aero wheels with an especially optimised cw coefficient are obviously an absolute highlight too.
When you look at the project as a whole, what was the biggest challenge you faced?
Our team’s biggest challenge was the aerodynamic specifications we had to meet. These are very important for the vehicle’s overall efficiency – and are therefore essential for the range it can achieve. This close cooperation between Technical Development, the wind tunnel and us designers has never been so intensive.
Unlike the majority of design teams, we see wheel development through from sketches through to manufacture. This means we also perform a feasibility analysis. This allows us to ensure that the design lives up to our high standards all the way through to production by our suppliers. Something else which is special about this development process is that stability and aerodynamics calculations are already made at the drafting stage. This is the only way for us to present realistic drafts. This speeds up the development process and eliminates additional presentations.
What have you personally taken away from the project?
The ID. range marks the beginning of a new era in every way. We have entirely new boundary conditions since the ID.3 as well as an entirely different kind of cooperation among the various departments. We have implemented new processes that necessitate closer consultation between Marketing and Sales, the series, Technical Development and Design. Such a fundamental change has an impact – not least because you get to know all kinds of interesting people within your own company.
I, too, was surprised that the high targets set in relation to, for example, aerodynamics and weight meant that the paintworks took on different looks. The surface area of the aero wheels means that some of the colours look quite different in comparison to wheels without aerodynamic optimisation. This resulted in chief designer Klaus Bischoff’s desire for an additional colour version: the 20-inch wheel in black with a machine polish. The chief’s choice, you might say.
Tell us a little about yourself and your work at Volkswagen. Is it true that wheel design accounts for around 50 per cent of a vehicle’s overall look? And if so, why is this the case?
The ratio of bodywork to wheel design really is 70:30. This is a subjective calculation based on various factors. On the one hand, this is determined by the ratio of the wheels to the total surface of the side view of a vehicle. The wheels account for approximately 30 per cent of the surface area. And on the other hand, the wheels give a vehicle its desired individual character: sporty, elegant, technical and so on. It is nonetheless true that, with some vehicles, the subjective perception of wheel designs comes close to 50 per cent. They are a car’s shoes, just like we can change the look of our outfit based on the shoes we wear. The ID.3 has very large wheels ranging from 18 to 20 inches. The effect is sometimes even greater here, partly because of the greater surface area of the entire wheel portfolio as this has an even greater impact on a vehicle’s look.