In a bid to make more relevant electric cars, Volkswagen is contemplating a new modular chassis architecture that could save cost and time in developing purpose-built EVs.
Called “MEB,” the battery in-flat-floor architecture could serve as the underpinnings of a new all-electric Phaeton by 2020, but VW engineers say more is possible.
The BUDD-e concept (pictured) shown at this year’s CES in Las Vegas was made on a variant of the MEB complete with 101-kWh battery and over 220 miles range.
VW said in in October 2015 the platform with potential for compact and light commercial vehicles was under development, and it stands to mirror advantages now held by cars by Tesla, Chevrolet (Bolt), Nissan, and BMW.
Not only are the wheelbase and other dimensions adaptable for a variety of vehicle types, VW is looking at a scalable battery it likens to a bar of chocalate.
As a chocolate bar is scribed into squares to take bite-sized pieces, so could VW add or subtract energy storage units to suit EV ranges from 155-310 miles, says Automotive News.
“A ‘chocolate battery’ is super easy to build and industrialize on a high scale,” said Volkmar Tanneberger, head of electronics development for the VW brand to Automotive News.
So, while the Phaeton luxury sedan may be built atop this, VW Group is also in process of ascertaining what other potential it has.
“We’re examining right now whether it can go all the way to a C-segment” between Passat and Phaeton, said Tanneberger. “It could be in the end that we have more than one electric-car architecture in the group — that there is a second alongside the MEB.”
With a flat floor, and no center tunnel, the architecture for purpose-built EVs would allow much better interior space utilization, and a clear palette for designers to create new EVs.
Because it is modular, new-vehicle development and assembly costs stand to be significantly improved.
To be sure, compared to converted EVs like the VW e-Golf, a purpose-built EV is generally considered less compromised, and more desireable all the way around.