Volkswagen to develop complete drive system for electric cars
Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen to develop complete drive system for electric cars

German automaker Volkswagen (VW) said that in addition to batteries and electric motors, its technology group is now developing pulse inverters and thermal management systems internally.

The Volkswagen drive system coming from one source offers significant efficiency and cost advantages of up to 20% through the optimal combination of individual components alone, it said.

“Our goal is to achieve technological leadership, also in electric mobility. That’s why here, too, we rely on our internal competencies and, after battery cells and electric motors, we are taking over the development of pulse inverters and thermal management systems. In future, this will make the Volkswagen Group one of the only car manufacturers in the world that’s able to offer a holistically optimised complete system,” said Thomas Schmall, member of the Volkswagen Group Board of Management with responsibility for Technology.

As with other components, the VW developers have opted for a modular system. The first application will be in the MEB+.

Designed by Volkswagen

The pulse inverter is the brain of the electric drive train and is largely responsible for efficiency and performance. For the first pulse inverter to be “designed by Volkswagen”, the developers of these core components redesigned the hardware and software from the ground up. Thanks to the modular toolkit principle, this can be implemented in everything from entry-level engines to sports cars with an output of over 500 kilowatts (kW) and more in the future. The technology is currently being developed for series production maturity and can already be used with the next MEB generation.

When it comes to thermal management systems, Volkswagen is working on entirely new solutions. While today a large number of individual modules and long hose connections are used, in future these will be replaced with an extremely compact, integrated thermal module. This will control the entire air conditioning, including for the high-voltage battery, and thus will have a major impact on the vehicle’s range and fast-charging capability.

The new all-in-one module is also significantly lighter, more robust and more efficient than current systems. In addition to efficiency, the main focus of the development of all central electric drive components is scalability, because high economies of scale reduce costs.

Volkswagen Group Technology

Volkswagen Group Technology bundles Group-wide activities in the areas of batteries, charging and electric components and supports the brands as a group-wide technology supplier. The subsidiaries PowerCo (batteries) and Elli (charging and energy) are also involved here. Among other things, the high-tech portfolio comprises the unified cell, which will be utilised in all Volkswagen Group vehicles as of 2025 and will set a new benchmark in terms of battery technology. The division also includes the Platform Business, which covers cooperation with external partners like Ford and Mahindra. Around the world, Volkswagen Group Technology employs around 70,000 people.