The German automobile manufacturer has announced their plan to upgrade the Zwickau facility to become the most effective electric vehicle production facility in Europe. A capacity of 330,000 vehicles per year is the eventual target for the CO²-neutral I.D. vehicle range, which will begin production in late 2019.
Although the upgrade plans for the facility are not new, VW has significantly updated the scope. For 2025, a global production capacity of “more than a million” EVs is targeted by Volkswagen. In this endeavour, the Zwickau facility will play a central role. The facility is being refitted to produce 1,500 vehicles per day by 2021. The plant’s 7,700 local employees are being prepared for the switch to large-scale EV production.
The cost of the upgrade will run into about 1.2 billion euros, which will see two production lines set up producing EVs based on the MEB platform. The first production line will go live in November next year, for the start of the I.D. EV production, and the second will join by the end of 2020. Volkswagen has confirmed that construction for the conversion is in progress and on schedule.
When production has reached its final state in the conversion programme, the output will have reached 1,500 electric vehicles per day for three different company brands (VW, Seat and Audi) in six different variations. This will then make Zwickau the most modern facility under the VW umbrella, which will also see investment in automation by using intelligent robots and autonomous transport systems. Thomas Ulbrich, head of the e-mobility unit for VW spoke of a new era for the company, comparable to the launch of the first Beetle or the first Golf.
Emissions standards have also been upgraded for the new production process, which aims to be CO² neutral. In this context, VW spoke of the I.D. being the first vehicle to be produced with CO²-neutral processes across the entire production chain. By getting battery production to switch to renewable energy, they will manage to significantly reduce emissions across the line.
Zwickau will be the first facility that Volkswagen completely converts from combustion vehicle to electric vehicle production. In order to reach the 2025 goal of more than one million vehicles, more facilities will have to follow. Yesterday, Volkswagen confirmed that the factories in Emden and Hanover would be converted as well. As of 2022, Emden will produce electric vehicles, while the utility vehicle factory in Hanover will produce both electrified vehicles from the I.D. Buzz family, as well as conventional vehicles. The final details will be decided tomorrow by the supervisory board.
Volkswagen has also been investing abroad. Two MEB production facilities will be built in China in Shanghai and Foshan, which will begin production just months after the pilot factory in Zwickau. North America is also set to receive its own factory, although the choice of location has not yet been decided.