Volkswagen is aiming to reduce the time it takes to develop new cars from 54 months to 36 months so it can better compete against Chinese automakers. Speaking to Autocar, Kai Grunitz, Volkswagen’s technical boss, said the upcoming ID.2 is one of three pilot models that are following the shorter development cycle.
The first design sketches of the ID.2, which is previewed by the ID.2all Concept, were completed in December last year, and the German carmaker will introduce the production version by the end of 2025. “You see with Chinese competitors that it’s doable. We have concrete ideas about how to do this,” said Grunitz.
He added that the shorter development times will require the company to build new simulation tools and ways of validating development work. Product teams can also improve efficiency by removing various on-road validations of simulation work and reducing the number of test cycles such as reducing cold-weather testing from two or three winters to one.
However, there are risks that come with shorter development times, with Grunitz saying, “the risk is that you don’t know where you’ll end up when you start the development process. In Germany, we have clear lines about what we want, especially at Volkswagen, and we don’t want to go into a development process with any risks.”
“But in any enterprise, there are risks. The competitors in China start [development] and are agile. If something comes up, they find a solution. That’s what we have to do in Germany. It’s a different approach. But it’s possible, really possible,” he continued.
One Chinese carmaker that impressed Grunitz is BYD, which he said is capable of building quality cars in shorter timeframes. “They have a real platform strategy, low costs, a really good battery and are all over the world building up some good sites,” he explained.
To support Volkswagen’s new direction when it comes to development, the company will work more closely with its suppliers to integrate their technology and ideas into its models. This will help prevent longer timelines and quality problems, the latter acknowledged by Grunitz as being an issue for the latest Golf and ID.3 which were built using the longer, 54-month development time.
“That’s exactly the challenge. We won’t bring any cars to the road like you’ve seen with the Mk8 Golf or ID.3, with thousands of faults coming to our customers. The question is how we reduce test cycles and stay within the quality,” he said.
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