Sunday, 1 July 2012
Exclusive: A look inside the Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Laboratory
Manufacturers realized long ago that the most effective way to leverage niche talent was to embed a team in the heart of the segment. From surfboard makers to chocolatiers, firms relocated offices to seek specific talents and a better local feel.
Automakers jumped on the bandwagon too. Southern California, long recognized for its fanatical car culture, became a mecca for automakers seeking to get a better taste of the region's motor vehicle passion. In no time, automakers had established Southern California design studios in places like Camarillo (Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center), Newbury Park (BMW DesignworksUSA) and San Diego (Nissan Design America). Cars like the BMW "E46" 3 Series, Nissan 370Z and Volvo's S80 are products of those facilities.
Today, with innovative electronics and forward thinking every bit as important as design, automakers are maneuvering to get a jump on the next big innovation. No place on the planet is more synonymous with high tech than Northern California's Silicon Valley. Located in Belmont, in the heart of the region, is the Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Laboratory. Established in August of 1998 with just three employees, the lab is tasked with "developing innovation and technologies for future generations of cars and to transfer technologies from many industries into the automotive domain." Just think of it as VW's version of Walt Disney Imagineering, but for automotive geeks.
The automaker recently invited us north to take a tour of its facility, touted as the Volkswagen Group's largest research facility outside of Germany. Read on to learn more about what we saw.Permalink | Email this | Comments