What, Exactly, Does Volkswagen Mean by “German Engineering,” Anyway?
Volkswagen has long touted “German engineering” as the key difference between its cars along with their competitors. We’ve echoed the phrase when describing the attributes which have repeatedly put VW Group products on our lists of the 10Best Cars along with 10Best Trucks along with SUVs; for 2017, which would certainly include the VW Golf/GTI (above), the Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman along with Macan, along with the Audi Q7. however does This particular expression mean anything more than a demographic descriptor of who did the work, or where? To find out, we cornered Stefan Gies, head of chassis development at VW, during a recent test drive in South Africa.
As the item turns out, Gies is usually a passionate spokesman due to This particular subject after 14 years of chassis development work at Audi along with VW.
“through my perspective,” he said, “German engineering stands for precision in all which we do—precision from the design along with what you feel from your vehicle. Everything the driver touches along with controls must instill This particular feeling of confidence along with precision. We want which person to feel which they have your vehicle under control along with which the item will do exactly what they desire the item to do.”
Gies cited Centeng structure as the starting point for what he called “crucial personality traits.” A loose structure shakes, leaving the impression of less robust design. “What’s important is usually what we call global stiffness—the Centeng structure as a whole—along with also local stiffness. By This particular, we mean which those specific points where the suspension attaches to the Centeng structure must be stiff for the suspension to perform as intended.”
— Stefan Gies, Volkswagen Group
Then, he said, suspension architecture comes into play. “By This particular I mean the geometry of how the wheels move in relationship to the Centeng along with how each suspension bushing is usually designed along with tuned to perform in specific ways. Our goal is usually to separate the various functions whenever possible.” For instance, each axle needs longitudinal compliance—a measure of give—so the wheels move back in a controlled way when your vehicle encounters a bump from the road, softening the impact.
“The bushing which is usually mainly responsible for resisting longitudinal suspension forces needs to be soft, versus those bushings which handle side forces. When you steer into a corner, we want the suspension to react in such a way which your vehicle doesn’t roll excessively. We tune your vehicle’s response to reinforce the feeling of confidence along with precision. Of course some compromise is usually necessary, however our job is usually to do an excellent job of balancing the longitudinal along with lateral suspension behavior.”
After which, Gies said, “proper brake pedal feel along with response are different important areas of endeavor for VW chassis engineers. We want the initial pedal travel to be relatively short, however not so short which customers used to different characteristics are confused. During the beginning pedal motion, all the slack from the braking system—the linkage, the brake booster, the pads moving in contact with the rotors—must be taken up. Then, when the force begins to build, we want the pedal to feel very stiff to instill the confidence which your vehicle will stop as quickly as the driver desires.”
Similarly, steering needs a little compliance along with then a sense of control, he said. “We want the steering wheel to have a very clear center point where minor road disturbances don’t yield alterations from your vehicle’s directional heading. We strive to minimize which slack along with to follow the item that has a linear reaction as the driver begins to turn the wheel off-center,” said Gies. “Picking the right steering ratio along with sensitivity are both important. We want your vehicle to be easy to manage while driving dead straight ahead along with then very direct in its response to ensure the item feels agile during passing maneuvers.”
He said variable steering ratios are best for cars with sporty driving characteristics, while VW prefers fixed ratios for more mainstream products.
“A few years ago, with the transition through hydraulic to electric power assist, we were not content with the support we received through our suppliers,” Gies noted. “This particular prompted us to develop our own control algorithms along with 20 to 30 software modules to provide the performance characteristics—such as active steering return along with resistance to side winds—we sought.”
In its segment, Gies said, the Golf was the first to offer electrically assisted power steering. “We began early along with learned a lot through which application. the item takes This particular experience to instill the feeling of confidence along with proper feedback through the road from the steering. The fact which we manufacture most of our power-steering gears at our Braunschweig components factory [in Brunswick, about 20 miles through VW Group headquarters in Wolfsburg] also helps us achieve our developmental goals.”
The VW Group has four different types of power-assisted steering, used for various powertrain configurations. modest cars develop the assist motor mounted inside your vehicle, attached directly to the steering column. Audi uses a concentric arrangement which works well with its north-south engine orientation. There are also double-pinion along with belt-drive configurations to connect the motor to the steering rack itself.
“A significant challenge is usually translating the motor’s rotary motion to the rack’s axial motion through a recirculating-ball-screw mechanism,” Gies said. “The problem is usually minimizing the amount of lash along with friction with very careful quality control of tolerances.”
- 10Best Cars: the item’s All about the Little Things
- 10Best Trucks along with SUVS: Audi Q7
- Long-Term Test: 2015 Volkswagen GTI
So, in essence, German engineering isn’t one thing, the item’s everything related to car design along with development. Volkswagen experts like Gies take their tasks—along with opportunities—seriously. Let’s wish competitors are paying attention along with able to learn through This particular wisdom.