Whereas there is a seemingly inordinate amount of attention—especially this week—on whether the Chevy Volt is a pure electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid on steroids and other such engineering-oriented issues, arguably there hasn’t been a whole lot of attention paid—at least not in any public way—to issues related to the production of cars going forward. In other words, while there is a tremendous focus on advancing the state of powertrain technology, one can only wonder if there is the same amount of OEM focus on actually building the darn things.
After all, if you survey the landscape of the auto industry, there are more than a few exceedingly expensive engine and transmission plants on the scene. And while the auto industry has more than 100 years’ of expertise on making things with gears and cranks and other such mechanical devices that James Watt would have been comfortable with, there isn’t a whole lot of knowledge vis-à-vis manufacturing things that Nicola Tesla would have gotten a buzz from.
Audi e-tron Spyder
So it is interesting to learn that Audi AG is holding the Audi Production Award, which is bringing together students and scientist in Ingolstadt to address the issue of building electric vehicles. They’re looking at everything from the production of electric motors to materials utilization. This week there are six teams who have made the cut participating in workshops at Audi HQ. Of his experience in the workshops, where there are personnel from Production providing insights into capabilities, Michael Schacht from Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, said, “It is very enlightening to get feedback from experts in Production. It helps you see which aims can be realized in a practical setting, and which ones probably cannot—its great fun.”
The winning team—the one that comes up with the best concept for electric vehicle production—will be announced in December.