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All Tests

Way to Zero 2050

The night before there was the presentation of the ID.4 GTX. Other manufacturers consider the additional engine in front as an extension of the selection of an existing system, VW celebrates it as an additional model, but the comparison with the Golf's step to the GTI seems exaggerated because it is arguably bigger, even if it does not result in all-wheel drive.

What fascinated us about the presentation, which was quite successful as such, was the mixture of reality and fiction. The car drives over an inclined plane in a very real way, and faded-in movies turn it into a winter fairy tale, for example. In general, you can see that the manufacturers are slowly getting to grips with the issue of world premieres without spectators, albeit in different ways, but overall.

The next day was more interesting in terms of content. That's quite a workload, starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 7:00 p.m. with an hour's lunch break. Of course, the opening speech by VW CEO Brandstätter has to cover the whole field to be plowed. Impressive were the two statements that VW currently considers itself responsible for 1 percent CO2 worldwide and that the emissions of this climate killer are roughly equivalent to those of Great Britain.

Then it got scientific, although we have learned in the meantime not to take statements by professors, in this case Maximilian Fichtner, responsible for solid state chemistry at the University of Ulm, into our store of knowledge without any reflection. Besides many good slides, there was a statement on hydrogen technology, where the professor calculates from 100% wind energy only 15-18% for consumption via hydrogen and 70% for direct consumption of the electricity e.g. by e-cars.

He added that there is still room for improvement in the chain of effects, but we were very surprised to see only a quarter of the output. This degrades hydrogen technology enormously and perhaps also explains why work is being done on batteries for long-distance trucks. For passenger aircraft, this leaves no solution at all, especially since the professor assumes that liquid fuels produced from regenerative materials have an even worse energy balance and thus even higher costs.

We have not yet seen everything, for the panels still relatively little time had. VW's own employees are a bit too much characterized by the fact that they talk a lot about plans, which often take on enormous dimensions, but still have very little to do with reality. But maybe that's the way it has to be at an event like this. For example, projects of charging back energy into the household are presented that have already been concretely realized in a model at Hyundai, but not at VW.

Do we have it now? No, there appears then also 'one of the most popular youtuber', which stresses naturally, how independently its statements of VW are, which is involved however at the same time numerous in for VW advertizing videos. He calculates that an ID.3 is of course cheaper than a Golf in six years at 15,000 km/year. But the Golf is in his choice 10.000 € more expensive than the basic model, the ID.3 only 3.500 €. Of course, the goverment subsidies are then deducted, so the ID.3 slips from €5,000 above the price of the Golf to €5,000 below.

The youtuber will claim to have chosen roughly the same power, but what's the point of 107 electric kW if you accelerate better but switch to constant speed at 120 km/h if possible, because otherwise you have to charge more often? In any case, a maximum of 160 km/h is possible. Even the basic Golf is stated with 202 km/h. Not that we want to talk about high speeds here, but you don't do e-mobility any favors with such comparisons.

That renowned carmakers in general are increasingly including such figures with questionable information in their portfolios? In the end, not even a residual value for the two cars is accounted for, but it is emphasized that drivers of e-cars are, after all, participating in the development of e-mobility. Yes of course, which leads to the fact that after six years, the ID.3 will be significantly more obsolete relative to new cars than a basic internal combustion engine. Of course, the latter will be more heavily loaded by taxes and fuel costs, but as a depreciated second car with 90,000 km it will still be perfectly usable. On the ID.3, on the other hand, there is the pressure of no longer having a warranty after two more years.

Perhaps the energy that undoubtedly exists in the company has spilled over at this point. So let's praise Jozef Kaban, the design chief who returned to the VW Group after an excursion to BMW. Yes, children's drawings may really be the beginning of design. In Kazan's case, the emphasis on colors was already striking the day before. Somehow he is pleasantly not an advocate of pure doctrine, but sees design as a summary of many aspects. For him, drawings of new objects are not only visualizations, but also answers to future mobility requirements.

Kazan sees milestones in VW's responses to given requirements, such as the Beetle, which had its role to play in mass mobility. He describes the Golf as a technology carrier, which can be seen in its incredibly many variants. With its shared platform, the ID.3 will probably not be able to offer as many versions technically, but it will be able to serve as a platform for many bodies. Kaban also credits the ID.3 with a certain share of breaking the ice for electromobility.

There it is again, the wide field of Jozef Kaban, that more than perhaps with other designers, the potential customers (of course, they do not call so) takes into account. This is not easy, especially since Kaban also mentions the current major technical upheavals. Obviously, the computer's part in the development of a new design has increased. No, not necessarily artificial intelligence, but quite simply the gathering of all kinds of information, a rather classic task for computers.

There are probably still many drawings at the beginning, but on the background of this information. It's 'not just about beauty, but also about function'. There's much less arrogance than usual in design circles. So even partial drawings still exist, for example the five light points per side in the skirt of sporty IDs and also Golfs. But, there don't seem to be quite as many clay models as there used to be. The computer apparently helps to create a much faster and for testing more usable version of the new idea.

Presumably, the fusion between planning and construction or production of new vehicles has also become closer. After all, the development time has been almost halved over the course of many years. Kaban shows augmented reality in parallel and talks about the possibility of representation with holograms. These are the 3D representations that can nowadays already grow out of normal smartphones. What sounds like a computer game seems to increase the adaptation of ideas to reality and the necessary testing.

In any case, one gets the impression that many a commercial has been borrowed from the designers' workshop. How does the future vehicle look in relation to X. And while Kaban emphasizes the accuracy and precision of the work in the design, behind him runs a film with some great new shapes that really make you want to see new models. So about the demanding reality, the designer seems not to have disregarded the visions and dreams. Because of course to attention of the recipients comes also the so important view into the future, which begins only again with the introduction of the E-mobility.

Actually, it is still assumed that growth will secure our prosperity and also help to heal social sins. This is probably a question that employees of a large car manufacturer do not address (publicly). Kaban does it anyway with an example from the restaurant industry. 'Is more more or is less more?' No, he doesn't actually ask the question, but answers it with the menu of an obviously more upscale restaurant. But there's no need for that, because restaurant testers have long been preaching one should streamline the menu and, if possible, focus more on the region.

However, at the end of the lecture we were not able to transfer this aspect from gastronomy to a mass producer of vehicles. Perhaps you can. In any case, Kaban interprets his example in such a way that he wants the focus to be on quality.

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