VW switching massive plant to EV production

The Volkswagen Group’s Zwickau factory (Germany) is being retooled to enable 330,000 electric models per year to roll off the line. Overall the company is looking to build 1 Million EVs throughout the world by 2025. The VW Group sells about 10M cars a year, so 10% of that capacity would be impressive. In June of 2018 there were 3 million EVs on the road worldwide.

VW's Zwickau plant will make 330,000 electric cars annually

The Golf and Golf Estate are produced at Zwickau right now. EV production is due to start at the end of 2019 with the  ID – Volkswagen’s first electric model based on their new modular electric toolkit (MEB). From 2021 onwards, six electric models will be produced there, and it will be the largest EV facility in Europe.

“The start of production of the ID will herald a new era for Volkswagen – comparable with the first Beetle or the first Golf,” said Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen Brand Board Member responsible for E-Mobility. “We intend to take e-mobility out of its niche and make the electric car affordable for millions of people. Efficient, modern production facilities will be the key.”

Low carbon production

Solar panels powering VW's new e-car plant in Zwickau

One of the knocks on electric cars is that carbon emitting fossil fuel is involved the vehicle production and needs to be acknowledged when looking at the total lifetime carbon output of the cars.

At Zwickau, Volkswagen intends to be the first auto company delivering a vehicle produced with an entirely neutral CO2 balance over the entire delivery and production chain. In fact, power supplies at the Zwickau plant were already changed over to 100 percent eco-power in 2017.

Climate protection measures will compensate for unavoidable emissions. CO2 avoidance measures in the production of the ID also include the energy-intensive production of battery cells. Suppliers will be contracted to use “green” power from renewable sources for the production of the cells. This should be a major lever for further improving the life cycle analysis of the electric car.

Building E-cars requires a different system

The modular electric toolkit (MEB) is the system VW has developed and continues to develop for maximum efficiency in EV production.

At Zwickau, equipment will include smart Industry 4.0 robots and driverless transport systems to take components to the assembly lines fully autonomously. The degree of automation in assembly itself will be almost tripled. All in all, Volkswagen is investing about €1.2 billion in the plant’s transformation of the Zwickau plant. The company maintains that, the workforce at the plant will remain largely stable. Around the world auto companies have already allocated almost $100B for the electric car revolution.

In China, two MEB plants are currently being created, at Anting/Shanghai and Foshan. They are due to start production in 2020. Volkswagen also announced plans to manufacture MEB vehicles in North America, the precise location TBD.

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