Production

Volkswagen Industrial Cloud development sped up as a cost-savings tool

Volkswagen is looking to save billions over the next five years thanks to cloud app development.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The buying public is predicted to be buying less vehicles in 2020. The need to trim the fat is a common theme amongst automakers these days. At Volkswagen, the process has already started.

Volkswagen Group is moving forward with a new cloud-based tracking program called the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud. The company linked the first three of its plants in 2019 in Chemnitz, Wolfsburg, and Polkowice (Poland).

"In 2020, we intend to bring the Cloud to 15 further plants," says Gerd Walker, Head of Production, Volkswagen Group.

Volkswagen cloud integration Volkswagen Group will integrate its technology across the world.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

That list of plants includes those assembling vehicles for the Audi, Seat, Skoda, Porsche, and Volkswagen brands. These include the plants at Brunswick, Emden, Hanover, Ingolstadt, Kassel, Leipzig, Neckarsulm, Salzgitter, Zuffenhausen and Zwickau (all in Germany), Martorell (Spain), Palmela (Portugal), Györ (Hungary), and Mladá Boleslav and Vrchlabi (Czech Republic).

"We are making good progress and significantly forcing the pace," says Roy Sauer, Head of Enterprise and Platform Architecture, Volkswagen Group.

The Industrial Cloud is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Siemens is the integration partner.

As part of their 10-year plan (2016-2025), Volkswagen intestines to boost the productivity of their plants by 30 percent and "our Industrial Cloud will be a key lever for achieving this objective," says Walker.

The first step of the plan included identifying 15 different applications that could be made available as standardized apps for all of the Volkswagen Group plants. Those apps focus on the predictive maintenance of machines and the reduction of reworking on vehicles by using artificial intelligence.

The apps record input from "several hundred thousand machines and plant items" according to Volkswagen. That data is analyzed by the apps. The systems all must be connected manually. Some older machines require a sensor to be installed. VW says, " In the final stage of development, the total quantity of information to be processed each day will correspond to the volume of data from a small town in Germany."

At present, 220 workers are dedicated to the project. By the end of the year, that number is expected to rise to 500.

The systems being developed by Volkswagen are being made available to other companies as part of an open ecosystem. Development will then continue together in partnership with those companies. There is no specific focus on the automotive sector.

According to a release, Volkswagen expects to save several billion euros when the data of all 124 plants can be evaluated in a standardized way. By implementing these first apps, the company is already expected to save €200 million.

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The AWD ID.4 model is on its way.

Volkswagen

There was a lot of buzz when VW introduced its 2021 ID.4 all-electric crossover with rear-wheel drive earlier this year, but there's plenty more now that the Wolfsburg automaker has added an all-wheel-drive version. The 2021 VW ID.4 AWD gets another motor onboard this compact SUV that brings all-wheel-drive traction. The SUV appeals to buyers in the snow belt states but will also tickle the fancy of performance enthusiasts. Now with motors on both the front and rear axle, there is nearly fifty percent more power, with impressive gains to horsepower and torque as well as the added battery-electric boost to that scoots the 5-seater from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds (the RWD model took 7.5 seconds to achieve the same).

2021 VW ID.4 AWD An extra motor brings AWD to the ID.4.Volkswagen

On sale now, the 2021 VW ID.4 AWD Pro starts at $44,870, before federal or other incentives; this is a $3,680 premium over the rear-drive model. The AWD Pro S starts at $49,370; both models are eligible for $7,500 income-tax credits. It's worth noting that current delivery estimates for the AWD Pro are running into 2022. The AWD Pro trim has been rated by the EPA at 249 miles (only 11 miles less than the Pro RWD) while the AWD Pro S has been validated at 240 miles (as compared to 250 miles). The AWD Pro has been rated at 102 MPGe for city driving/90 highway/97 combined; the Pro S gets 93/98/88. Both are rated at 2,700 towing. Competitors include the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y.

While the AWD and RWD look the same outside, one exterior badge designates the newest variant with an "AWD" badge, plus it gets 0.6 inches of added ground clearance, slightly bigger brakes and sway bars. From the front, the electric SUV has smoothed jelly-bean styling that is highlighted by standard LED headlights and standard black roof rails that sit atop the body-colored roof. From the rear, it wears hatchback-like looks.

2021 VW ID.4 AWD The ID.4's cabin is tidy and upscale, no matter the model.Volkswagen

We drove both the Pro and Pro S versions, with different premium interior trims and found the Gradient Package ($1500) visually upscale and appealing. It brings a black roof with silver rails, along with 20-inch wheels and the availability of King's Red Metallic paint, as a $395 option. The Pro is well-equipped with attractive trim elements and an impressive collection of communication and infotainment technologies. Pro S comes with a glass roof with an electrically-retractable shade and front seats with leatherette upholstery and 12-way power adjustments (including four-way lumbar support and a massage system).

We drove the new ID.4 AWD over a course of 160 miles along a variety of roads to sample its handling and ergonomics. The interior has a clean and open feel with good visibility. Controls and gauges are well-placed and the seatbelts are height-adjustable, while a configurable console holds different drink sizes and has removable cupholders. A futuristic LED "Light" strip with 10 different ambient lighting selections extends across the dashboard and pulses with directional signals, incoming phone calls, navigation prompts and other in-cabin inputs (optional is 30-color lighting selection on the Pro S). Driving is also a bit futuristic with no stop/start button; the vehicle senses the approaching key and can start climate control, unfold side mirrors, unlock doors and illuminate door handles at night, among a number of other high-tech features. There is 30.3 cubic feet of stowage behind the rear seats and up to 64.2 cubic feet with the second row folded. Under the floor storage holds the charging cable and small items. Pro S has an adjustable trunk floor that can be raised and lowered and a ski passthrough.

Pushing the brake pedal triggers the ID.4 to begin motoring, with the option of a "D" mode for typical driving or "B" for a more regenerative driving experience. Travel Assist brings semi-autonomous driving. Notable is the fun and responsive torque-on-tap, well-balanced direct steering and a suspension system that allows the small compact to maneuver well through traffic and along twisty roadways, as well as an impressive turning radius. The vehicle dynamics control system is integrated with the stability control system and an electronic differential to seamlessly engage the front axle, when needed. Volkswagen has added a different asynchronous motor to the front with a permanent-magnetic synchronous motor at the back for a combined 295 hp. and 339 lb.-ft. of torque.

2021 VW ID.4 AWD The ID.4 AWD will start shipping in early 2022.Volkswagen

Carried over are 82-kWh battery packs and the 5 to 80 percent fast-charging time of 38 minutes, when using 125kW fast-charging. VW says it can add 62 miles of range in 10 minutes; home charging on a Level 2 charger is projected to take approximately 7.5 hours for a full charge.

Of note: VW includes three years of complimentary charging up to 125 kW, with any ID.4 purchase or lease; VW Group's Electrify America charging network has over 650 stations and more than 2,700 fast chargers.

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Electric sports car

Porsche Taycan has outsold the 911 in 2021

The Taycan has outsold a few Porsche models so far this year.

Porsche

The Porsche Taycan is an impressive EV with speed and build quality to shame almost anything else on the road. As we learned from Porsche today, those attributes resonated with buyers, as the Taycan outsold the Porsche 911 during the first nine months of 2021.

Porsche Taycan The Taycan's steep starting price doesn't seem like much of a sticking point for buyers.Porsche

Yes, the electric car that starts at almost $83,000 outsold the most iconic sports car of all time. However, Porsche's had a good year, and it's not all thanks to the Taycan. In today's SUV-crazed world, it's not surprising to see that the Cayenne is still Porsche's most popular model. The automaker sold 62,451 of its flagship SUV in the first nine months of the year. The Macan sold a respectable 61,944.

Now, consider that the Taycan – a brand new, expensive, all-electric car – sold almost half as many units as those two iconic SUVs. Further cementing its place in the Porsche lineup, the car outsold the 911 by almost 700 units and decimated sales of the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman, which combined sold 15,916 units. The Panamera, which offers a similar body style to the Taycan, sold 20,275.

Porsche SUVs The Cayenne and Macan both sold very well.Porsche

Porsche has had a good year in all markets it serves, but the U.S. market showed the strongest sales growth, climbing to 51,615 vehicles sold in the first nine months of the year. That's a 30 percent jump from 2020, and the rest of North America was just as strong with a combined 29 percent increase in growth. China did the most to propel Porsche's sales skyward, with almost 70,000 cars sold there.

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