Volkswagen wants you… to help build better batteries, cash award awaits

Volkswagen wants help build better batteries, cash award awaits

It’s not often companies turn to the collective efforts of the general public in order to help advance key technologies needed for the cars of the future. But that is exactly what Volkswagen is doing with the introduction of the German automakers new “Science Award for Electrochemistry” it plans to hold annually along with chemical company BASF.

Applicants for the award — which includes a hefty prize purse of 50,000 Euros (roughly $64,000), making it one of the highest endowed science awards — are invited to help “promote outstanding accomplishments in science and engineering from which stimulation may be gained for the development of high-performance energy storage devices.” Basically this translates to developing and building more reliable and effective battery technology used in many of today’s all-electric and hybrid vehicles.

One of the main concerns of current battery technology, along with alternatively powered vehicles in general, stems from reliability. Because electric vehicles EVs typically cost more than their gasoline counterparts, the need for continued innovation and refinement for existing battery technology is of utmost important to automakers like VW.

Volkswagen and its luxury brand Audi are on the verge of adding an array of new hybrid, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric cars to its respective automotive lineups, including the upcoming Jetta Hybrid, the Audi A6, and A8. The German automaker also plans on rolling out the highly anticipated battery electric Audi R8 e-tron, which will see a limited release this year, as well as the XL1 plug-in hybrid which is set to launch sometime next year, though specifics regarding availability and pricing are unavailable.

With VW rolling out a sizeable amount of new EVs, and the introduction of its new award, it’s clear alternatively powered vehicles, in this case electric cars, are in the company’s long-term future. In a statement released by Volkswagen AG, Dr. Martin Winterkorn, VW’s chairman of the board of management, states the “science award is intended to motivate and carry forward innovative thinking,” before reiterating the pivotal role high performance batteries play in the enhancement of vehicle driving range and thus the appeal of electric cars as a whole. He added that Volkswagen’s primary objective with its battery system is to “facilitate day-to-day operations for 10 years” in keeping with the average life span of conventional gasoline-powered cars.

Candidates for the Science Award can apply at with the required documents. The prerequisites for participation, the procedure, and the selection process are described there. The application period ends on August 3, 2012. The award ceremony will take place in Wolfsburg, Germany on October 22, 2012.