Volkswagen plans to reduce product development timelines for new vehicles from 54 to 36 months while increasing quality. It's a move the automaker hopes to allow it to better compete with Chinese rivals, but it's not without risks.
Starting with the ID. 2 and two other vehicles, Volkswagen will pilot the shorter development cycle. Its design team completed the first sketches of the compact electric vehicle last December, and VW plans to launch it by the end of 2025.
Gallery: Volkswagen ID.2all Concept
Kai Grunitz, who heads VW's technical development, acknowledges that the shorter development cycles bring risks. However, he indicates VW has concrete ideas about how to manage those risks while maintaining and improving quality. Those ideas include building new simulation tools and processes to validate development work. Additionally, product teams can improve efficiency by removing some of the on-road validations of simulation work and reducing the number of test cycles. For example, reducing cold-weather testing from two or three winters to one.
VW also plans to work more closely with suppliers to integrate ideas and technology. The goal is to eliminate some of the uncertainty in the development process, which leads to longer timelines and quality issues. Grunitz acknowledged the problems developing the eighth-generation Golf and the ID.3 and indicated VW won't bring any more cars to the road "with thousands of faults."
If Volkswagen is to compete with Chinese auto companies like BYD, it will have to find a way to build quality cars in the shorter 36-month timeframe. Grunitz realizes the challenges but notes that BYD has been successful thanks to its agile approach, platform strategy, battery technology, and low costs. By adopting a similar model and using the ideas he laid out recently, Grunitz believes that approach is possible for VW.
In addition to the ID. 2, Volkswagen is readying an updated ID.4 crossover for 2024 and the heavily anticipated ID. Buzz van. It also teased a new electric version of the GTI, which is expected to debut in 2026. Meanwhile, the Golf GTI 380 premiered recently and is the final model VW plans to launch with a manual transmission.