Research and Development

The main focus of our research and development activities in 2009 was on innovative vehicle and mobility concepts, expanding our product portfolio and reducing fuel consumption and emission levels. The Volkswagen Group currently offers 176 models with CO2 levels below the emissions threshold of 140 g/km, 60 of which emit less than 120 g/km. CO2 emissions in six of our models have already dropped below 100 g/km.

Innovative products inspire our customers

The integrated innovation management process introduced in 2008 that encompasses the Research, Development, Procurement, Production, Sales and Components divisions was continuously and sustainably enhanced during fiscal year 2009, enabling us to drive forward innovations geared more closely to customer requirements. The exceptionally good marks accorded to this process as a benchmark in the innovation management dimension of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index are testament to its effectiveness.

In the following paragraphs we present the most important innovations – new models and systems launched during the past fiscal year.

In 2009, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand bundled its fuel-efficient BlueMotion models and other innovative, sustainable technologies under the umbrella of BlueMotionTechnologies, raising customers’ awareness of this economical model range. This new umbrella brand encompasses all technologies and products ready or almost ready for series production that help save fuel, thus reducing CO2 and harmful emissions. In rolling out the new Polo, the brand continued the democratization of innovations in the compact vehicle segment. One such example is the seven-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG), which is available in this class for the first time. The BlueMotion version of the model features the cutting-edge start-stop system with regenerative braking, as well as low-resistance tires. Aided by these innovations as well as by CO2 emissions of 87 g/km (combined), the Polo BlueMotion* is setting new standards in its segment. A major innovation of recent years, Volkswagen’s “Park Assist” system, received a facelift in 2009. The new driver assistance system makes parking in very tight spaces child’s play with multiple-move parking maneuvers. The revamped technology made its debut in the new Golf Plus and is now enhancing other models as well.

Number of vehicles
CO2-emissions – status quo (bar chart)

The Audi brand introduced the start-stop function in its vehicles in 2009. The system shuts down the engine once the car has come to a stop, the gear lever is in neutral and the driver releases the clutch pedal. Depressing the clutch then starts up the engine again. The start-stop system is extremely quiet, convenient to operate, and fast. It saves around 0.2 l of fuel per 100 km – equivalent to around 5 g CO2/km. Because roughly 30% of fuel consumption depends on the individual driving style, the efficiency program Audi has built into the onboard computer will help improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. The new technology shows all consumption-related data on the display and recommends new tactics for efficient driving, e.g. by indicating the best time to change gear.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles unveiled the Amarok, the first pick-up to be produced by a German volume manufacturer. Thanks to economical common rail engines with the most recent generation of biturbo technology, the robust Amarok boasts low fuel consumption and emissions. The pick-up also gets top marks for its comfort, ergonomics and functionality. In the latest generation of the Multivan/ Transporter, innovations such as the seven-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG), the “side assist” lane change assistant and the tire pressure control system were integrated into the transporter class for the first time. The portfolio of fuel-efficient four-cylinder diesel engines with common rail injection and biturbo technology is a logical continuation of the downsizing strategy, producing record economic and ecological values and generating considerable customer benefit as a result.

In unmasking its innovative Driver Support System in 2009, Scania presented a system that continually analyzes data from various sensors in the vehicle to produce an assessment of the driving style. On a display, the system gives drivers useful tips in real time on how to improve their driving style to reduce costs and protect the environment. Scania also started full-scale operational trials with six ethanol-fuelled hybrid buses in Stockholm in 2009 to improve the environment in the Swedish capital. The hybrid technology will lower the fuel consumption of the city’s buses by 25%. CO2 emissions for ethanol engines are reduced by up to 90% compared with diesel engines.

*Consumption and emission data can be found here.

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