Volkswagen Group of America showcases environmentally friendly technology, research and vehicles at symposium and ride-and-drive event
Participants at Volkswagen Group of America’s Environmental Leadership and Technology Day on Capitol Hill got the chance to learn about — and test out — the latest advancements in environmentally progressive automotive technology. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, chief executive director of research, Volkswagen AG, and Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, were joined by Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia who addressed the 60-person audience, which consisted of academics, policymakers and Hill staff.
‘As carmakers, we feel a special obligation to deal with environmental challenges,’ Jacoby said. ‘We know that our industry has contributed to some of the problems we face. Fortunately, we now have the knowledge and the technology to do something about it. Today is a chance to share ideas on the best ways to reach our shared objective of sustainable mobility.’
As part of its commitment to innovative, efficient and environmentally responsible driving, Volkswagen Group hosted a panel discussion on sustainable mobility featuring personalities from a broad spectrum of environmental and technology backgrounds. Contributing their thoughts on The Sustainable Mobility Puzzle panel discussion today were: Johan de Nysschen, president, Audi of America; Josh Dorfman, The Lazy Environmentalist; Thomas Mason, director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Glenn Prickett, executive director, Center for Environmental Leadership in Business, Conservation International; and Frank Sesno, creator, Planet Forward, and professor, George Washington University.
‘It is through progressive technology that society will attain the daunting goals of energy independence, minimized environmental impact and an exhilarating driving experience for the consumer,’ de Nysschen said. ‘An integrated energy policy must steer consumer behavior away from yesterday’s technology towards tomorrow’s solutions.’
Following the panel, attendees got behind the wheel of Volkswagen and Audi vehicles that feature some of the Group’s latest green technologies, including hydrogen fuel cell, clean diesel, and TFSI engine technology.
The vehicles that attendees test-drove around Capitol Hill represented an array of the green-technology advances that Volkswagen Group has already made available to the North American consumer or that are in development, including:
An environmentally friendly and economic fuel alternative already available today, Clean Diesel TDI is the bridge on the path to energy independence tomorrow. Clean diesel TDI vehicles from Volkswagen and Audi offer high fuel efficiency, extremely low emissions, maximum performance — and a fun driving experience. The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI set a new Guinness World Record for lowest fuel consumption, achieving a remarkable 58.82 miles per gallon during a 48-state cross country trip last summer. In fact, converting one-third of the cars on the road today to Clean Diesel TDI would save approximately 1.4 million barrels of oil a day.
Hydrogen fuel cell
Volkswagen Group’s fuel cell concept vehicles are powered by a hydrogen fuel cell based on the company’s unique technology, and yield more than 107 horsepower and produce zero emissions. Clear water vapor is the only byproduct that comes out of the tailpipe. The vehicles, the Tiguan Hymotion and the Caddy Maxi, are virtually silent, completely clean engineering marvels that promise to be the ideal means of transportation of the future.
TFSI engine technology
TFSI engines deliver turbocharged acceleration while still delivering responsible fuel efficiency. This is one example of the way Volkswagen Group is optimizing gasoline engine efficiency through direct fuel injection and turbo charging. This technology delivers the optimum balance of power and economy.
Sunfuel, fuel from biomass
Sustainable second-generation fuels, such as SunFuel® developed by Volkswagen Group, have an almost entirely neutral CO2 emissions balance. The quantity of carbon dioxide produced in combustion is basically the same as the quantity of carbon dioxide that is converted into biomass via photosynthesis during plant growth — a closed loop. SunFuel won’t just be used in the engines of tomorrow: it can already be used with today’s engine technology.
AUDI. Clean Air
Demonstrated between sessions was Volkswagen Group’s vision of creating connected, intelligent vehicles that are capable of collaborating with their users and with each other to preserve the environment. Environmentally friendly navigation lets drivers choose the most energy efficient route. Smart engines use traffic information and advanced topography to consume less fuel. On-board cameras allow vehicles to act as smart moving traffic nodes and share traffic information with other traffic nodes and data sources. And vibration energy harvesting provides a clean energy source to power vehicle sensors.
Travolution is a framework for future systems that quickly informs the driver and paves new standards of environmental responsibility to improved traffic flow and reduced commute time. Traffic lights connected to a central computer calculate optimum solutions using Genetic Algorithms. Traffic lights equipped with communication units send information about traffic light cycles. Audi cars then process this information into a speed recommendation for the driver.
Autonomous driving vehicles
The autonomous driving project is one of Volkswagen’s most forward-looking research projects. Research on autonomous vehicles allows for the continuous improvement of today’s driver assistance systems. These self-driving vehicles use laser range finders and radar sensors to perceive their environment and road ahead. In the future, autonomous vehicles could make driving safer and more fun by giving the driver the option to have the car drive by itself in certain situations where the driver does not want or possibly is not able to control the car. Stanley, an autonomous driving Volkswagen Touareg and winner of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, was honored at a reception later in the day at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History where Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander joined the celebration. Stanley is the centerpiece of a new gallery in the museum’s Science in American Life exhibition.
‘We have a lot of brainpower at our disposal today,’ Jacoby said. ‘We hope that the conversation we start today will continue for days to come and help lead us to a better tomorrow.