Learning How to Breathe Life into a Hybrid Car

Learning How to Breathe Life into a Hybrid Car

Innovation Mobility

Electromobility is no longer a vision of the future, with ŠKODA starting to manufacture its first electrified production cars. Let’s take a look inside the training centre at the Kvasiny factory in east Bohemia, where the plug-in hybrid ŠKODA SUPERB iV is rolling off the assembly line.

18. 9. 2019

Having been substantially upgraded in the past year, the ŠKODA plant in Kvasiny now has some 9,000 employees making their way through its gates every day. Many of them work in the hall where the assembly of the hybrid vehicles is finalised.

Before they can start working on the production of electrified cars, they have to be trained. That’s why the Kvasiny plant’s training centre added a special section dedicated to training staff in the specific assembly operations required by hybrid vehicles.

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We’re welcomed on the training centre’s modern premises by the trainers Leoš Plašil and Luboš Martinec. In the front part of the room, we find ourselves in the area used to practise the completion of hybrid vehicles. We then go past the car bodies used for training and make our way into the rear section, where there’s a virtual reality centre. Trainees only get to try it out once they have reached the final stages of their course. First, they need to undergo initial theoretical and practical training.

“We ourselves had to take a week-long training course in Germany. We now guide a maximum of four workers per week through our three-day training at the ŠKODA Kvasiny plant. We choose them very carefully and evaluate them during the course itself,” explains Leoš Plašil.

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Leoš Plašil
trainer at the training centre, ŠKODA Kvasiny plant

Absolute responsibility and thoroughness are employee essentials here. Contact with the electrified components must be treated with the utmost accountability, which means it’s mostly seasoned assembly line workers who are invited take the course to broaden their skills.

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Luboš Martinec
trainer at the training centre, ŠKODA Kvasiny plant

All workers, even if they don’t work with hybrid cars, need to go through safety training, otherwise known as conditioning or electro-safety. “Employees may not work directly with hybrid vehicles, but they are working in the same hall so they need to be familiar with the issue,” says Luboš Martinec.

From theory to practice

The hybrid car assembly completion course starts with theory lessons. Next, there’s training that focuses on basic work with high-voltage cables and components, with an emphasis on work safety and quality. The last phase is the actual “car completion”, entailing the installation of the transformer and the charging module in a test body, and their subsequent cable link up.

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This is the ultimate step — as soon as all the components are interconnected, the car is activated and can now start up. “Though this is a classic assembly operation, workers must never forget to carry out an inspection,” says Martinec.

Employees are also given the chance to try out the whole process in virtual reality. It might seem like fun, but it’s far from easy. “It’s a completely different system of work. Sometimes, workers get very nervous about trying something new. But most importantly, we have to watch over them. Before they get used to virtual reality, they have a tendency to wander off too far with the headset. We wouldn’t want them to bump into the car bodies we use for training in here,” smiles Plašil.

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Batteries instead of fuel tanks

The main difference between an ICE and hybrid car, in terms of bodywork, can be found in the rear of the vehicle. The 130 kg PHEV battery is located in the fuel tank’s usual spot under the backseat. In a hybrid car, the fuel tank is moved to a depression under the luggage compartment. The battery is installed from below.

“We work with a high-voltage system – delivering 345 volts – that is designed to be extremely safe. Thanks to a quality protection system, the system deactivates automatically if there’s any malfunction. Even so, production work must always proceed according to stringent standards,” Leoš Plašil explains. He adds that the installation completion centre has been designed so that all steps can be carried out properly down to the last detail.

ŠKODA SUPERB iV WITH A PLUG-IN HYBRID DRIVE

ŠKODA SUPERB iV

The orange under the rear seats shows a 13 kWh traction battery. The orange cables running forwards from this battery are high voltage and are connected to the power electronics in the engine compartment. All of this part comprises electric-drive technology.
The red shows the fuel tank for conventional fuel (in this case petrol), which is mounted above the rear axle.
The black under the bonnet at the front shows a classic 1.4-litre 115 kW internal combustion petrol engine, which is connected to the electric motor.

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