In March of this year, Volkswagen let slip their plans to massively expand their battery production to try to gain an edge in the race to dominate the electric-car market. As part of this plan, Volkswagen is looking to drive down the cost of battery systems through a new unified battery cell. “The one size fits almost all cell design will radically reduce battery costs … by up to 50% compared to today,” says Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess.
By moving away from these traditional motor vehicles, Volkswagen is helping to open the door to a new market and new opportunities for engineers and technicians. Although Volkswagen has entered a hiring freeze for the business in general, the areas of exception to this directive are those with experience in batteries, electricity, and software.
The Swiss bank UBS issued a report last month that ranked Volkswagen just behind Tesla in electric vehicle technology. Many other traditional carmakers approached the electrification of cars as something they were forced to do to meet emissions requirements. “They spent too much time looking at electric vehicles from the perspective of compliance,” says Patrick Hummel, head of European and U.S. auto and mobility research at UBS, referring to that group of carmakers. “Now they are catching up, but they are late.”
This quote brings to mind the early days of battery-powered vehicles that were rushed to production, after which significant flaws were discovered by way of vehicle fires.
Although the move to all-electric vehicles is exciting and provides new opportunities for the engineering community, we need to be ever mindful of the safety aspects of these moves. More and more the responsibility for identifying flaws or potential areas of concern will fall to the engineers, with less and less time in which to react. Staying current on new technologies and new practices will become ever more important. iNARTE will strive as ever to aid in this endeavor through the new Exemplar LINK portal, whereby we look to house micro-training courses enabling our customers and affiliates to engage in new topics and trainings in convenient, bite-size chunks.
Stay vigilant, stay aware, and stay up to date wherever and whenever you can!