CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY FOR ENHANCED ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
In addition, Volkswagen – together with agricultural cooperative Raiffeisen Warengenossenschaft eG – operates the only biogas filling station in Germany. The station sells “SunGas”, a fuel made from sustainable raw materials, which is of such high quality that it can be used in all Volkswagen Group natural gas vehicles. Such as the Volkswagen Passat TSI EcoFuel – the first ever series vehicle to feature a twin-charged direct-injection engine capable of running on both petrol and natural gas, which was voted “most environmentally friendly car in Europe” by German automobile club ADAC in January 2009.
Right: Dr. Michael Henn, Head of Drivetrain Electronics department in Group Research
Left: ELECTRIC MOTOR OR COMBUSTION ENGINE? In the Golf twinDRIVE , the choice of drive is communicated to the drive wheels via a single-speed transmission.
And because SunGas renders the Passat even more environmentally friendly, Lösche-ter Horst recently presented the filling station operators with a sun-yellow model, an event that received widespread press coverage. “Volkswagen sees biofuels with a high potential to reduce CO2 as being strategically important, and we are anxious to raise public awareness of them,” explains Lösche-ter Horst.
The black Passat that is currently on display in the research hall has also been put through its paces recently on the roads around Wolfsburg. Dr. Michael Henn, head of the Drivetrain Electronics department, and his team installed state-of-the-art measuring and navigation equipment in the luggage compartment with a view to testing the new “Energo” driver assistance system. “Drivers usually waste an enormous amount of energy braking,” explains Henn, “which is why we are looking for ways to automate the braking process.”
“Energo” adapts driving styles to the traffic situation in question, keeping fuel consumption to a minimum. For example, when the vehicle is heading at high speed towards a built-up area, the system automatically “takes its foot off the gas,” using only the frictional losses in the engine and transmission to slow down to the required speed. By contrast, when going uphill, the system disengages the clutch early on, thereby almost eliminating friction loss completely. The exact timing and type of reaction are determined by the “Energo” software based on data from a navigation system that not only takes into account the road network, but also speed limits, elevation profiles and the radii of bends in the roads. “The first tests have shown that we can cut down on fuel by up to 15 percent depending on the route in question,” says a visibly content Henn.
Left: IN THE CENTER OF RESEARCH – At the Volkswagen Group Research Technical Center new technologies are built into concept vehicles and subsequently tested.
Right: ENERGY IN MOTION – When electrical energy flows through a tightly wound wire, a magnetic field is generated inside this coil. This is a key factor in driving electric motors.
JOINING FORCES TO DESIGN THE DRIVETRAIN OF THE FUTURE
It is not clear at present exactly when the prototype will be ready for series production. It will certainly take two or three years for the software to be interfaced with the electronics and mechanics and for the extensive “Energo” data to be processed reliably for series vehicles. This is just one of many challenges on which Volkswagen Group Research is working. However, these efforts only result in marketable products because specialists from all disciplines work together as a team. “This kind of automotive research can no longer be conducted single-handedly by a mechanical or electronic engineer,” stresses Henn, “the secret of our success is interdisciplinary teamwork.”