Volkswagen to open e-car design to competitors

Volkswagen to open e-car design to competitors

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

In an interview with the daily newspaper “Der Tagesspiegel”, Michael Jost, Head of Strategy at Volkswagen Passenger Cars, explained that the MEB Drive Matrix “should not only be a standard for the VW Group”. The company is already in advanced talks to provide this crucial part of Volkswagen’s IP to several competitors, especially in the volume segment.

The MEB Drive Matrix is a kind of construction kit with standardized parts for the construction of electric vehicles. Among other things, the MEB Drive Matrix contains one to two electric motors with an output of 75 kW for the front axle and 150 kW for the rear axle, a module for inductive charging, and, above all, a lithium-ion battery with 111 kWh, together with the associated control electronics.

The MEB Drive Matrix standardizes the powertrain for volume production. 
Several paramaters can be varied to enable rather a broad range of car designs.

The MEB Drive Matrix is the one technical element common for all models of Volkswagen’s future ID family of e-cars. It is also a technology platform specially developed for electrically powered vehicles. During development, Volkswagen engineers placed particular emphasis on closely interlocking the components of the electric drive system and the packaging. The company thus promises an optimum combination of range, installation space, variability, comfort and dynamics. Vehicles equipped in this way should have a range on a par with today’s combustion engines. The sales price of these planned electric vehicles should also be at a comparable level. The company plans to launch the first cars based on the MEB Drive Matrix in 2020.

By opening the platform to competitors, it would be possible to achieve further economies of scale for production; the cars could then be offered more cheaply. This advantage would not only benefit Volkswagen itself, but also the license partners. A key issue, however, is the licensing conditions, because it is to be expected that Volkswagen will not give away its IP but charge a fee.

The VW strategist did not mention the names of his negotiating partners. However, industry observers regard Ford Motor Company as a probable choice – as recently as January 15, Volkswagen announced a development cooperation with the large US car manufacturer. Toyota and Renault may also be interested.

Volkswagen has many years of experience with the approach of standardized kits or platforms for a complete vehicle class across all brands of the group (including Audi, Skoda and Seat). These platforms make it possible to vary certain parameters and thus build a large number of variants while simultaneously reducing design complexity and production costs. Examples of such kits are the MQB platform for drive and transmission or the MIB platform for infotainment and connectivity.

Related articles:

Volkswagen increases R&D spending for electromobility

Electric and digital: Audi sketches its technological future

Volkswagen’s ID concept car: Electric and – later – autonomous

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