Electric Vehicles

Volkswagen tests its EV batteries 5,000 ways for safety and durability

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is Volkswagen's newest all-electric offering.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

How long will your car last? Barring an accident, a vehicle purchased new should easily last a decade. With electric vehicles, the question of how long a car will last extends to the battery as well. Will you need to change out the battery of your Volkswagen ID.4 when it goes bad?

Volkswagen Group Components has spent the past several years developing ways to ensure the electric vehicle batteries of today meet the standards owners will expect today and in the future.

"Volkswagen tests almost every conceivable case that could affect the battery system during a vehicle's lifespan – from accidents to extreme temperatures," says Michal Bruna, Head of Electronics Development and Testing at the Battery Development Center of Volkswagen Group Components in Brunswick, Germany. "Every variant of an EV battery, including the software, has to prove its safety in more than 5,000 individual tests."

2020 The battery pack is located at the bottom of the ID.4.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

2020

The types of tests Volkswagen uses are varied. They include the impact of mechanical shocks simulating those caused by curbs, railroad crossings, or stone ships. During a two-week vibration test, engineers simulate the life cycle of a vehicle of nearly 125,000 miles. Other tests include measuring the impact of temperature shocks, such as those that could occur when driving through cold water, and check the battery's durability under extreme climatic conditions. At the end of the 5,000 tests, each battery system is disassembled and examined.

There are also tests during the production of the battery system. The Center of Excellence in Salzgitter tests the quality of the battery cells, and Technical Development in Wolfsburg tests the cell modules. The software and control units are tested automatically via hardware-in-loop test benches. When each battery is produced, its functionality and safety is checked before it is delivered to the vehicle plant.

Battery electronics are required to meet high safety standards. On Volkswagen's MEB electric vehicle platform, which underpins the ID.4, the battery is located at the bottom center of the vehicle, between frame rails, with a protective metal shield between it and roadway.

Like other automakers, Volkswagen also offers free and easily available materials to first responders to help safely respond to an accident involving an electric vehicle, with directions for how to safely disengage power cabling around the battery and where to avoid cutting the vehicle.

"If the airbag deploys, the battery system is automatically disabled. It can only be started and recharged after a safety check," Bruna explained

Beyond the labs in Germany, Volkswagen is building a battery test lab in Chattanooga, Tennessee that will teat the cells and packs that will power U.S.-assembled ID.4s.

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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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