April-May 2017 News
The way that cars are designed is changing with the advent of virtual reality. Still in the trial phase for now, HoloLens software, encompassing mixed-reality goggles, allows the projection of an image of a car, with the ability to change the wheels, the colour, and any aspect of the vehicle within just a few seconds. Volkswagen is invested heavily in the technology and has six Virtual Engineering laboratories around the world, at Wolfsburg, Berlin, Munich, San Francisco and Barcelona. Specialists are working on the digital future, together with research institutions and technology partnerships. Between them, they are conjuring up solutions in the fields of big data, the Internet of things, connectivity and mobility services, and virtual reality is just one aspect that needs close co-operation between a variety of different companies.
A typical laboratory will feature a virtual reality 1:4 scale model of a car in the centre of the room. It’s possible to inspect the car closely, but with voice commands and gesture control, the design can be altered with different wheels, replacement headlights or altered door mirrors. Users can call up the entire Volkswagen range, presenting different bodystyles in all conceivable variants, and with the ability to transform from a four-door saloon, to an estate car, convertible or SUV. In the past, it would be time consuming to create validation models of each different car for production, in every colour, with a range of wheels and trim treatments. Not only does the software speed up development, it also hugely reduces costs, too, with each step of the process made faster and more efficient. It also allows teams at different sites to work together, cutting down on travelling time, and potentially making clay models a thing of the past.
Frank Ostermann heads up the Virtual Engineering Lab at Wolfsburg. Commenting on the technology, he said “We have been using augmented reality and virtual reality for some time now, mainly to obtain a three-dimensional view”. Frank added “We are transforming this technology into a tool for technical development departments. They will be able to see the results of their work immediately.”
Just a few years ago, the idea of virtual reality was pure science fiction, but now it is clear that this is how car makers will be developing their cars in the future.
July 2017 News
The petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the facelifted Golf range were announced a few weeks ago, and now it’s time for the all-electric e-Golf to be released, with the price tag of the updated car set at £27,690. This represents a price increase of £510 compared to the outgoing car, but this is justified by the increase in equipment that the e-Golf gets compared to before, including a larger 9.2-inch infotainment and navigation system with gesture control and headlight washers. But most importantly, the latest e-Golf has a larger lithium-ion battery pack, increased from 24.2 to 35.8kWh, while a more powerful electric motor develops 134bhp compared to the 114bhp of its predecessor. Maximum torque is enhanced to 214lb ft, with acceleration to 62mph achieved almost one second faster at 9.6 seconds. The maximum range of the latest car has been lengthened to 187 miles in optimum conditions, up from 118 miles. Plugging the car in to charge the battery takes 13 hours 15 minutes using a domestic socket, with a 7.2kW charging station taking around 4 hours 15 minutes. Connect the latest e-Golf to a 40kW rapid charging station and it takes just 45 minutes to reach an 80 per cent charge. The updated e-Golf is available to order now from Volkswagen dealers, with the first all-electric examples of the car expected to arrive at dealers in the next few weeks.