Sustainable mobility is a joint project

Sustainable mobility is a joint project

INNOVATION

Excellent driving qualities, green credentials, but also sporty performance and progressive design – ŠKODA has all these bases covered. That gives the company excellent prospects for the future, as Christian Strube, the member of the ŠKODA board in charge of Technical Development, explains in the first part of an extensive interview.

2. 4. 2020

How is ŠKODA doing in terms of eMobility?
Last year we launched our first electrified SUPERB iV and CITIGOe iV models. This year, we will launch the ENYAQ iV, our first model based on Volkswagen’s Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB). That’s another important step regarding the electrification of our model range. We are on the right track, and we could already sell many more iV models than we can produce. Anyone who has had the chance to drive either model knows what a good driving experience they provide. I’d also like to add that despite the increasing demand for electric cars there’s one thing we shouldn’t forget: battery-powered models may run without emissions at a local level, but the key issue for the overall CO2 balance is how the primary energy is obtained.

To offer a mobility ecosystem

There are lots of different fields involved in rolling out nationwide eMobility. What are your expectations?
Sustainable mobility is a joint project. Without the cooperation of all the stakeholders, i.e. politicians, business groups, economists and above all our customers, it won’t work. The truth is that we first have to examine what we can do by ourselves. Some time ago, we started building charging infrastructure at our production plants and the surrounding areas here in the Czech Republic, and we want to step up these efforts. Basically, it comes down to this: “partnering is key”. To achieve this, we have to pool our efforts.

Christian Strube, Skoda Auto, Board Member, Technical Development, portrait

Do ŠKODA’s typical attributes also apply to the company’s electric cars?
Of course! Our slogan Simply Clever, for example. We are thinking hard and offering answers to everyday questions – for example, an ice scraper in the cap of the fuel tank or door edge protectors, sleep headrests for children or mobile phone holders – the list goes on and on. Another specific feature of ŠKODA cars is spaciousness. We provide more room than our competitors. But they are now offering similar wheelbases as us and trying to take away this USP (Unique Selling Preposition) of ours. That’s what competition is – it drives you on, so we have to try harder.

You already said: eMobility is more than just cars. Is ŠKODA developing anything else in this regard? Can you say something about the iV ecosystem, for example?
Individual mobility will go far beyond the boundaries of cars in the future. We are working on being able to offer customers a mobility ecosystem in which the car is one form of transport, but there are lots of other options for individual mobility. Thanks to the mobility services we are developing through our network of four DigiLabs in Prague, Beijing, Tel Aviv and Pune we have already taken the first step in this direction. We should not miss the chance of creating internal competition before others do it. Our thinking is untraditional and goes far beyond the main tasks and areas of the past years.

Design distinguishes us

The ENYAQ iV model will be the brand’s first battery-powered electric vehicle based on Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Platform (MEB). What are this platform’s benefits for customers, as you see it?
The battery is entirely housed in the floor. Its shape can be imagined like a bar of chocolate, so we can install a large number of battery cells particularly efficiently and cheaply. That brings other design advantages. If the battery was in the luggage compartment, that wouldn’t leave much room for luggage. If it was in the transmission tunnel, the tunnel would have to be very wide and high. So the battery is installed in a way ensuring we hardly notice it. Consequently – and thanks to the platform’s other architectural properties – you sit about 10 centimetres higher than you would in an OCTAVIA A8 which I regard as another advantage. Like in an SUV, you have a better view and you feel very comfortable in the car. As the car doesn’t have a combustion engine, the front can be a bit shorter. That improves both the interior and the impression of space, because it provides more space for the driver and passenger and lots of legroom. The MEB platform also offers a wide range of battery modules – customers can choose the right battery for their driving style and practical requirements. Synergies within the Volkswagen Group and a large number of units produced allow us to get a price advantage as well.

We’ve talked about the “Simply Clever” slogan and extra space. Are there other typical features that the ŠKODA vehicles of the future will have?
Yes, ŠKODA’s typical crystalline design. In recent years we’ve worked on the development of our design DNA, our product identity and brand identity. Thanks to that, everyone can recognise a ŠKODA. The key design elements come from the ŠKODA brand’s tradition, but also from Czech culture and the traditional manufacture of Czech crystal. History and tradition are fundamental, not merely a marketing gimmick. From my point of view, we have managed to reflect that perfectly in our design, which we are constantly developing. Our products are unique and people can identify the ŠKODA brand at first sight.

Fully electric, plug-in or mild-hybrid systems – will these alternatives continue to exist in the future?
Yes, our drivetrains portfolio is just as diverse as our customers’ requirements.

Will other fuel systems exist, like CNG?
Yes, we’re now offering CNG versions of the SCALA and KAMIQ models, and the new OCTAVIA will also be available in a CNG option. All three models are characterised by high efficiency and long ranges.

Sportier eMobility

You recently presented the new OCTAVIA RS iV to the public. An electric motor, dynamism, sporty looks – how does this all go together?
Very well! I recently test-drove a hybrid plug-in OCTAVIA at the Ehra-Lessien test track and an RS iV with a plug-in hybrid, and I can tell you that both engines are excellent! The plug-in hybrid is powerful enough, but the RS puts you on an entirely new level. During this test drive, we decided to make it even a bit sportier. Sportiness is not just a question of the drivetrain, but also the materials used, the design, shape and aerodynamics. How can I stand out from the competition? How can I express my personality in terms of sportiness? And besides sportiness, the OCTAVIA RS iV lets me go 60 kilometres entirely on zero local CO2 emissions.

ŠKODA OCTAVIA RS iV

Where else can an electric motor’s strengths be leveraged for improving and enhancing a car’s driving dynamism?
An electric motor has completely different dynamic characteristics from combustion engines. With a combustion engine, the torque keeps increasing until it reaches maximum performance at a particular point. Then the torque curve falls again. So you first need to hit a certain number of revolutions to achieve this performance. An electric motor’s torque curve looks totally different. Here the torque climbs much more steeply, then it remains relatively constant and then falls again. If I combine the two curves, I get an almost perfect torque line, in other words the best of both worlds. Performance begins instantly and then increases further. A great driving experience. It’s not easy to describe – the best thing is to try it out for yourself. In any case, I’m convinced that everyone we persuade to test-drive electric cars will be won over by this driving experience straight away.

This year you’re also launching the OCTAVIA e-TEC model. Can you describe the concept briefly?
The e-TEC model is a mild-hybrid system. You could call it “the smallest form” of eMobility. A 48-volt battery beneath the passenger seat delivering 0.6 kW and an electric  generator make it possible to immediately boost for acceleration and to recuperate via breaking. This increases your driving fun – and at the same time saves fuel up to 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres. 

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