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Under the Hood: the ID.3 and VW’s electrification platform

An article written by Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio, editor-in-chief Power Electronics News and EEWeb and Gina Roos, editor-in-chief, Electronic Products, based on an interview with Romain Fraux, CEO, System Plus Consulting – The ID.3 EV marks a milestone for VW as the first model in the company’s fully electric ID family that is affordable for the masses.

The Volkswagen (VW) ID.3 hatchback, introduced in 2019, is considered one of the best-selling electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe, and has opened an interesting chapter in the EV market that will see many more models by 2030. The ID.3 is VW’s first fully electric vehicle launched in the “ID.” family and represents “a new age of electric mobility for all.”

The ID.3 highlights the turnaround initiated by the German company to transition from combustion engines to battery EVs across its brands, while reinforcing its manufacturing platform strategy. The ID. class of vehicles is called VW’s third major chapter, following the very successful and iconic Beetle and Golf. Underlying the development, of course, is the need to comply with global emissions regulations.

The Volkswagen Group moved to a modular platform strategy several years ago that enables the company to share modules and systems across brands and models. One of the most recent is the MBQ flexible modular platform, introduced in 2012, which is designed to share as many components as possible between the various brands while still leaving ample room for customization and compatibility with a wide range of engine types. It also can adapt to the dimensions of different models, thanks to the possibility of varying the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) and the width of the platform. The platform system targets transverse, front-engine, and front-wheel-drive vehicles.

This manufacturing philosophy has been transferred to the production of fully electric vehicles with the new MEB (modular electric drive matrix) platform, matching the design requirements for e-mobility. Some of the first electric vehicles built on the MEB platform include the ID.3 for the European market and ID.4 crossover, which will be sold in the U.S. and Asia.

The MEB platform is a scalable architecture that has been created exclusively for EVs and will underpin all EV models from other VW Group brands. It has also been licensed for use by Ford. This recently confirmed agreement is crucial in helping VW recover its huge development costs and will allow it to keep prices low through economies of scale.

One of the key factors impacting the adoption of EVs is cost. Consumers don’t want to pay a price premium. The shared design elements in the VW platform strategy offer key advantages, including purchasing power and speedier development, resulting in lower costs while delivering a rich set of technical solutions, all needed to drive the adoption of EVs.

In an interview with EE Times, Romain Fraux, CEO, System Plus Consulting, discussed the key hardware innovations implemented on the compact and economical ID.3 EV. On the strength of modular creations, the Volkswagen Group has created several models from different brands that share the same base.

From the Volkswagen Golf to the SEAT Leon to the Audi A3 Sportback and Škoda Octavia and others, the MBQ platform is what sets it apart, and now, this construction philosophy has been transferred to the production of electric cars by the Teutonic Group with the new MEB platform, especially for the ID.3 and ID.4 versions, Fraux said. An ambitious objective, it is a commercial challenge that exploits a technology designed to cut costs and create products that are always up-to-date, he added.

The greatest benefit of a modular platform is that it allows certain parts to be standardized so that they can be used for all possible model variants, Fraux said. “We are talking about structural parts, support elements, and also the modules that make up the actual floorpan and, above all, the mechanics, engines, gearboxes, transmission, and equipment.”

The MEB platform provides flexibility in body and interior designs that are decisive for the stylistic character of the vehicle, such as the wheelbase. It also delivers a scalable battery system with various possibilities for the battery layout. The battery pack can have either a 5 × 2-cell or a 6 × 2-cell structure; not every cell necessarily has to contain a battery module.

Fraux examined two key systems in the ID.3, the first model to be built on the MEB platform: the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and electrification, as shown in Figure 2.

“For ADAS, we analyzed the front assist with Valeo’s last generation camera and mid & short range radar by Continental,” he said. “The forward-collision warning system [included in front assist] can help monitor traffic and can alert you acoustically and visually to a potential rear-end collision with the vehicle moving ahead. For ADAS, there is the Hella RS4 for blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.”

“For electrification, we analyzed the inverter, the on-board charger, and the battery management system [BMS],” he added.

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