Noise is especially crucial in an EV. Here's how VW manages.
Automakers pull out all the stops when it comes to reducing the level of noise emitted from all their vehicles, but the stakes are even higher with a battery-electric vehicle. With no internal combustion engine banging away under the hood, there's less to drown out the sounds made by the gearbox, suspension, and other sources as the vehicle travels down the road.
Understandably, then, Volkswagen has worked especially hard to limit the noise created by the single-speed gearbox that drives the new ID.3, and while that model won't be sold in the US, it's a safe bet the gearbox will land in plenty more ID-branded EV models.
To ensure that each unit of the ID.3's unique single-speed gearbox is quiet enough for EV use, Volkswagen manufactures the units with extreme precision at its Kassel plant, before testing not only their power characteristics, but their relevant noise values, as well. Making sure that each gearbox's noise level is within spec in the factory translates to quieter operation out on the road.
That single-speed gearbox has another trick up its sleeve, too: a two-stage design in which two smaller cogs are used to multiply the motor torque, rather than one big cog. This allows the gearbox to be comparatively compact, and since so much of a gearbox's mass is within the housing itself, relatively lightweight.
The compactness of the gearbox highlights one distinct advantage held by battery-electric vehicles: mechanical simplicity. Pure EVs don't require a reverse gear, and Volkswagen's motor can get away with a single forward drive speed because the motor produces maximum torque from very low in the RPM range, sustaining that torque over a wide range of operating speeds, and ultimately topping out at 16,000 rpm.
At that point, even with the ID.3's 10x reduction, the vehicle is traveling at its top speed of 160 kph.
The first of Volkswagen's ID battery-electric vehicles slated to be sold in the US, the ID.Crozz, is expected to debut this April at the 2020 New York International Auto Show. It will be Volkswagen's first attempt at selling an EV in the US market after the now-discontinued VW e-Golf.