Wheels: efficient and distinctive
Wheels: efficient and distinctive
The wheels of the ID.3 define almost 50 percent of the external appearance. In this episode, you will learn the impact their design has on range, efficiency, and even the choice of the right paint finish.
Almost 50 percent of the overall appearance of a vehicle is defined by its wheels. In addition, colours look completely different with different wheel designs. Matthias Valencia, co-responsible for the wheel design of ID.3, explains why – and how important the wheel design is for the efficiency of a vehicle.
What inspired you the most when developing the ID. family?
The ID. family in general and the ID.3, in particular, will have a massive impact on the brand’s appearance! Because all of these purely electrically driven vehicles have their own unique design language. It was super exciting to watch how these forms and lines developed from the first sketches into the 1:1 model. Over the course of time, we integrated various wheel designs into this new design language which would express and, ideally, enhance it. Nevertheless, the cars should be immediately recognisable as “typically Volkswagen”: logical, pure, sensual, with attention to detail and technically sophisticated. My very personal highlight here is our “aero look” wheel, derived from the wheels of the ID.R electric racing car.
At what point did you realise that electric mobility is about to make a breakthrough for everyone?
The seriousness and vast effort that Volkswagen is putting into development and marketing, as well as the large number of purely electrically powered production vehicles that the entire Group is putting on the road and which we are, in part, preparing, show that electric cars are no longer a niche product but will soon become commonplace in our society. Furthermore, the response – also from our colleagues in China – makes it clear that we are on the absolutely right track.
The wheels are a vehicle`s shoes. We develop vehicle design on the basis of the wheels in the same way that we use shoes to change the look of our outfits.Matthias ValenciaWheel design and drafting Volkswagen Design
In detail: which technology do you find most fascinating in the new ID.3?
Personally, I am looking forward to the IQ.Light headlights because for the first time in Volkswagen’s history, these interact intelligently with their environment and also with people. Not to mention: the aero rims, which are highly optimised for aerodynamic drag, are an absolute highlight.
What was the biggest challenge you faced over the entire course of the project?
The biggest challenge for our team was the aerodynamic specifications that we had to meet. They are highly important for the efficiency of the vehicle as a whole – and a critical factor for the range. This close cooperation between the technical development department, the wind tunnel and us designers has never been so intense.
Unlike most design teams, we the company the wheel’s development from the sketch to production. This means that we also handle the feasibility process, i.e. the feasibility analysis. This enables us to guarantee that the design meets our demanding standards up to and including the supplier’s production. Another special aspect of this development process is the strength and aerodynamic calculation testing during the design phase. This is the only way for us to present realistic designs. This also accelerates the development process and prevents the need for additional presentations.
What will you take away from this project personally?
In every respect, the ID. family is the beginning of a new era. Since ID.3, we have had a completely new framework and a completely different level of cooperation between the different departments. We have implemented new processes that require closer coordination with Marketing and Sales, with the product line, Technical Development and Design. Such a fundamental change has a lasting impact – not only because you get to know many new and interesting people within your own company.
I was also surprised that because of the demanding goals – regarding aerodynamics and weight, for example – even paintwork looks different. Due to the large surface of the aero wheels, some colours have a completely different effect to wheels without aerodynamic optimisation. This led to the wish of our Head Designer, Klaus Bischoff, for an additional colour variant: the 20-inch wheel in black with diamond-turning. Sort of a house choice, then.
Tell us a little about yourself and your work at Volkswagen. Is it true that wheel design accounts for around 50 percent of the overall appearance of a vehicle? If so, why?
The ratio of body and wheel design is actually 70:30. This calculation is subjective and results from various factors: on the one hand, it is determined by the ratio of the total area of the side view of the vehicle. In this case, the wheels represent an area of about 30 percent. On the other hand, the wheels give the vehicle a desired individual character: sporty, elegant, technical, and so on. Nevertheless, the subjective perception of wheel designs increases to almost half for some vehicles – this is also true. Wheels are the shoes of the car: just as you change your own wardrobe through your shoes. The ID.3 has very large wheels: from 18 to 20 inches. The effect is sometimes almost even greater due to the increased surface area of the entire wheel range. they have an even more powerful impact on the appearance of the vehicle.