Synergies boost efficiency
For new vehicle projects, the individual brands of the Volkswagen Group have access to “modular toolkits”. These ensure that the synergy effects that exist both between models in one series and across all series and brands can be optimized and increased at the same time. By using them, new vehicles for both existing and untapped markets can be planned more efficiently.
At Audi, vehicles already come off the production line that are based on the Modular Longitudinal Toolkit (MLB). All these models have an engine that is mounted longitudinally to the direction of travel. With the evolutionary step MLB evo, the toolkit will be expanded in the future. The Group is taking the next key steps in the enhancement of the cross-brand platform and module strategy with the Modular Transverse Toolkit (MQB) and the Modular Standard Toolkit (MSB). With the MQB, it is possible to design vehicles whose architecture permits a transverse arrangement of the engine components. It allows us to produce vehicles of a differing length, width and wheelbase, and meets growing customer expectations for a variety of models, equipment features and design. The MQB reduces the complexity, costs incurred and time required for development. In September 2011, production based on the MQB began on the Audi site in Ingolstadt of a preliminary series of the new Audi A3, which will come onto the market in 2012. In the future, the toolkits will form the technical foundation for over 40 models under the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands. The MQB has placed Volkswagen among the finalists for the “Innovation Award of the German Economy – The World’s First Innovation Award”.
The MSB is the basis for vehicles whose engine is built in a longitudinal direction and for those that feature rear-wheel drive in the base version.
The Modular Infotainment System (MIB) provides a hardware platform across brands and vehicle classes that can be assembled according to the specific requirements. This makes possible a wide variety of infotainment features and individual designs with a minimum of variance. The MIB is an efficient instrument in vehicle development, as is the Modular Diesel System (MDB), with which a completely new, efficient and dynamic generation of three- and four-cylinder engines is being introduced. These will debut in 2012 in the new Audi A3.
Pooling strengths with strategic alliances
Cooperative development arrangements with other vehicle producers are especially well-suited for tapping new market segments in a cost-effective way. In a strategic collaboration, investment expenditures can be distributed among the parters and development costs can be kept low thanks to the concentration of expertise and competencies. In this context, Volkswagen continued the existing cooperation arrangements in 2011 with Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Daimler AG and the Chrysler Group.
We have also continued and intensified cooperation with a number of expert battery manufacturers in 2011. This allows us to support the development of high-voltage battery systems for hybrid drives and electric vehicles. In 2010, Volkswagen and its Partner VARTA Microbattery GmbH in Ellwangen established VOLKSWAGEN VARTA Microbattery Forschungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG. Its purpose is to research and develop battery cells suitable for cars as well as the associated production technology. We are also continuing to expand our expertise in the field of electric traction in cooperation with many universities such as the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the University of Münster.