Volkswagen has stated that it intends to refocus Technical Development's operations due to the transition to electromobility and digitization. According to Development Director Thomas Ulbrich, this focus will significantly influence future electric vehicles such as the Trinity.
Ulbrich achieved this by adopting the slogan "Software first" for the Technical Development he supervised rather than Wolfsburg's long-established "Hardware first" philosophy. "Software is at heart and is driving our change," Ulbrich stated during a news conference. "When the world was simpler, a Volkswagen Beetle was only hardware. So, likewise, our ID models are primarily software-based." And this trend will accelerate in the following years: Ulbrich estimates that the Trinity will once again have two to two and a half times the amount of code contained in the present Volkswagen ID3.
Volkswagen sees enormous promise in software, reliable networking, and the change from automobile maker to a technology firm that will result. "We are giving a boost to electric mobility, the software industry, and, in the long run, autonomous driving," says the manager, who was previously responsible for the ID models' market debut as an eMobility board member.
Development has thus far begun with the component itself. "Each component was created relatively independently and then optimized," Ulbrich explains. "We cannot continue to grow based on component orientation; we must build based on function." For example, suppose a consumer wants to view a video in a self-driving car in the future. In that case, multiple components must work in harmony: You will need a huge display, the correct one, a sound experience, a lighting environment, and a comfortable seating posture that maintains safety. "We need to establish early on the needs for reciprocal dependency," the development director explained.
The Sandkamp campus, which is planned to begin building this year, is meant to assist with such endeavors. The development center's organizational structure should be elegant. According to Ulbrich, the specialist's private office has served its purpose and will be replaced by a communicative open space area. However, it is not only about the development engineers: on campus, an integration center will house professionals from different business units, such as buying, manufacturing, and quality assurance. Ulbrich expects that this will result in more efficient and short coordination pathways.
However, these duties and the resulting shift in thinking require the appropriate personnel. Technical Development employs 11,500 individuals, many of whom must now be prepared for new responsibilities and working techniques via intensive qualifying processes. Ulbrich asserts that this is already the case for the first 100 employees and that up to 4,000 additional people will follow. According to Ulbrich, the most significant hurdles are integrating complicated work domains and shifting to a fast-cycle software development approach.
As a result, a new electric vehicle project should take 40 months rather than 54, or 25% less time. Because development and production are more integrated, the time required to produce a vehicle should also be decreased. Volkswagen sets a target of 10 hours per car in the message – a figure that Tesla already meets and has been frequently cited by VW CEO Herbert Diess in the past. An automobile takes almost three times as long to complete at the facility in Zwickau.
Hardware should also play a role in reducing development time. Trinity will unveil the new e-platform SSP in 2026. Ulbrich believes that this platform, which is meant to integrate the MEB platform and the bigger PPE eventually, will also contribute to greater hardware standardization. In addition, reduced variation in the built-in electric motors, infotainment, or sensors for driving assistance systems simplifies and lowers the cost of manufacture. "The discrepancy between production and suppliers might be rather minimal," Ulbrich explained. "I can still offer a wide variety of functions in the car with the same technology since the software utilizes the hardware differently depending on the model - which I can modify later with an update."
According to the development board, the SSP, like the MEB platform, would be available to third-party clients. While the Trinity will have a sedan in the Volkswagen Passat pattern, Ulbrich has not yet specified the size of an entry-level SSP model. "In the long run, we hope to offer a range comparable to that of the MQB," the manager explains. "At the moment, I am unable to tell if it will be a vehicle similar to the MQB-A0. Automobiles have grown in size in recent years."
However, Ulbrich also addressed more immediate issues throughout the conversation: Bidirectional charging will be included in software version 3.1, which is presently in development. "Therefore, the vehicle is capable of doing so. The rest is up to the infrastructure," the manager explains. "Volkswagen is devoted to this emerging field. However, we are conscious that if we get the car to market, we will be required to pioneer the whole system in the subsequent process, all the way to legislation."