Volkswagen Group Research, which has been the automotive group’s incubator for innovative vehicle and mobility solutions for 50 years, has been renamed and restructured as Volkswagen Group Innovation, with shared responsibilities at new Innovation Centers. Volkswagen Group Innovation will work within the fields of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, solid-state energy systems and autonomous driving, as an initiative within Volkswagen’s ‘Together 2025+’ strategy.
The rebrand will see all research activities at the innovation Centers in California, Europe and Asia become grouped under the umbrella of Volkswagen Group Innovation by mid-2020. This move is intended to create synergies that will provide Volkswagen Group with findings relating to its development towards being a pioneering mobility provider. This international alignment is also a strategic step to strengthening Volkswagen’s role in electric mobility.
“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”, explained Dr Axel Heinrich, head of Volkswagen Group Innovation.
He added, “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.”
Examples of innovation
“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- Golf1 fleet”, Dr Heinrich explained. “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.”
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 US$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 Heinrich said.
In addition to solid-state batteries, Volkswagen is also further developing the fuel cell in cooperation with Stanford University in the USA. 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.
The focus of innovation activities at Volkswagen 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.