Volkswagen is moving forward on automation at its electric vehicle plants. VW Passenger Cars and VW Commercial Vehicles divisions have ordered more than 2,200 new robots for the planned production of EVs at the German plants and the US plant in Chattanooga.
Volkswagen Passenger Cars has ordered more than 1,400 robots from the Japanese manufacturer Fanuc for their production facilities in Chattanooga in the USA and Emden in Germany. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is purchasing a further 800 or so robots from the Swiss manufacturer ABB for the carmaker’s Hanover plant. The robots will be primarily used in body construction and battery assembly.
In this new order, it has become clear that Volkswagen is leaving the robot manufacturer Kuka out in the cold, even though the group uses thousands of robots from the German-based manufacturer in its plants around the world. Word has it, that since Kuka was taken over by the Chinese technology group Midea in spring 2016, Volkswagen has been trying to become more independent of the robot specialist based in Bavaria. In an article published in the German publication Wirtschaftswoche at the beginning of 2019, a company spokesperson was quoted saying that VW is following the situation at Kuka closely. It would appear that this period of deliberation is over and that Volkswagen has turned to a new supplier of robots.
Volkswagen is building new production lines as the three plants mentioned above are being prepared for the construction of electric cars. In Emden and Hanover, the conversion work began this summer, in Chattanooga as early as the end of 2019. From 2022 onwards, the US plant and the Emden plant in Germany are to produce, among other things, the ID.4, while in Hanover, Germany, the ID. Buzz will be rolling off production lines.
According to Christian Vollmer, Board Member for Production and Logistics at Volkswagen, Emden and Chattanooga will become two of the most modern production facilities in the automotive industry. Josef Baumert, who works in the same capacity for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, adds with a view to Hanover that the conversion measures are fully on schedule. “With the launch of the ID. BUZZ, we will complete the modernization of our Hanover plant currently in progress, which will also benefit all the other models produced at this location,” he explained.
In total, the Volkswagen Group plans to invest 33 billion euros in the field of electromobility by 2024, several billion euros of which will go to the three plants mentioned above. Eight MEB plants will be built worldwide in the coming years. Four of these are in Germany – in Zwickau, Emden, Hanover and Dresden – and others in Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic, Anting/Shanghai and Foshan in China and Chattanooga in the USA.
Including reporting from Cora Werwitzke