Affordable e-mobility: TU Wien awards Porsche Prize
Thomas Ulbrich (Brand Board Member Volkswagen Technical Development) was awarded the Porsche Prize – for modular solutions that make electromobility cheaper.
Electromobility is on the upswing, but the main problem is still the acquisition costs: electric cars are comparatively expensive. But that is now set to change. A modular electric vehicle system (MEB) is set to play an important role in this: A flexible modular system with various application-specific modules and flexible software can be adapted to different vehicle sizes and types.
Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Volkswagen Board of Management for Technical Development, has now been awarded the Porsche Prize 2021 for the development of this modular electric vehicle system. This prize, worth 50,000 euros, is awarded every two years by the TU Wien for outstanding achievements in the field of automotive technology.
Higher number of units – lower price
If the production of electric cars is to become cheaper, then the crucial components for this must be manufactured in as large a quantity as possible – and this is only possible if it is not necessary to develop, adapt and manufacture all the components individually for every single type of vehicle. That’s why Thomas Ulbrich and his team developed a modular system for electromobility. It allows the production of very different electric vehicles: It can be adapted to different vehicle sizes and different range requirements, and the system is just as suitable for front-wheel drive as for all-wheel drive.
The right number of battery cell modules can be used depending on requirements, and the battery management system and software are also designed to be flexible. This will not only be used to equip vehicles from a wide range of brands in the Vokswagen Group – from Audi to Skoda – but the new platform is also open to other manufacturers. In this way, electromobility should finally become suitable for mass production.
The modular vehicle architecture has its own cooling circuit for the battery module and a floor panel with integrated water channels. The system is also suitable for fast charging with direct current (CCS plug) and meets the highest safety requirements because the battery is located in the center of the vehicle, where it is protected in the best possible way, and also ensures safe handling thanks to the low center of gravity. The system’s sophisticated geometry also brings more space inside the vehicle. “This universally applicable modular electrical system convinced us,” said jury member Prof. Bernhard Geringer, head of the Institute for Powertrains and Automotive Technology at TU Wien. “It has the potential to finally help cost-effective electromobility achieve a breakthrough.”
Porsche Prize Award 2021
On Friday, October 8, 2021, Thomas Ulbrich was awarded the Porsche Prize of the TU Wien for the development of the modular electric vehicle. The prize was presented by TU Wien Rector Sabine Seidler, together with Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Porsche AG, and Dr. Hans Michel Piëch, Member of the Supervisory Board of Porsche AG.