Employees come up with the ideas for numerous patents
In 2008, the Volkswagen Group secured 1,424 patents, 1,051 of them in Germany and 373 abroad. The majority of these innovations related to electronic aids and measures to reduce emissions in drivetrain systems. Once again, our employees demonstrated their exceptional innovative strength through the large range and the technological quality of the applications.
Forward-looking research in the automotive industry
Megatrends in the automotive industry that will affect our products and processes in the future make up a substantial part of our research work. The strong growth of megacities in some markets and the challenges this development presents for infrastructure are just as much part of this as the increasing importance of environmental and climate protection. Micromarkets will grow up alongside established mass markets. Also, as the average age of the population rises, new customer requirements emerge, for example relating to quality and comfort. In addition, customer requirements are diverging due to growing differences in income levels. Another focal point of our research is tomorrow’s world of work with the tasks to be performed and the way in which work is organized. Working hours and places where people work will also be more flexible than is the case today. As a result of these trends, our products will be shaped to an even greater extent by intelligent and networked technology, and ease of use by people. That is why the number of assistance systems will grow and provide the driver with greater safety, while new vehicle materials will offer enhanced functionality and comfort.
Integrating external R&D know-how
In addition to its internal development capacity, the Volkswagen Group needs the expertise of its suppliers in the development process to continue its model initiative systematically in the coming years. We can only successfully complete projects to the standard required and within reduced development times if synergy between internal and external capacity is guaranteed. Creative processes and virtual technologies are pivotal when it comes to integrating external expertise. We also believe that it is very important to build up the core competencies required to meet the challenges posed by coming megatrends.
Using external know-how makes sense for us in support services, in downstream processes such as series production management and in activities that are not customer-facing and generate improvements. The expertise of subsequent system suppliers is also particularly useful when developing modules and components. As a general rule, however, we endeavor to increase the share of the development process accounted for by our own work.