This sunny November Monday at the Zwickau plant was a historic one - as the guest list at the ceremony already showed: When the first ID.31 production vehicle rolled off the assembly line at around 11.30 a.m. and was presented to the general media public, not only Group CEO Dr. Herbert Diess and Supervisory Board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch were present, but also Chancellor Angela Merkel and Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer, Kretschmer's predecessors Kurt Biedenkopf and Stanislaw Tillich as well as Carl Hahn, today 93 years old, who was Volkswagen's CEO from 1982 to 1993 and was responsible for starting Volkswagen production in Saxony in 1990. They all had one thing in common: today marked a big step for Zwickau. For Volkswagen. But also for the entire automotive industry.
"The future belongs to electric driving. And VW is supplying the car for this future. With ID.3, we are bringing electric mobility out of its niche," said Volkswagen CEO Diess in his speech. And Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Volkswagen Board of Management responsible for e-mobility, added that for Volkswagen today it is far more than just the start-up of a car. "Volkswagen will make this technology affordable for millions of people. That's why we are completely converting our plant here in Zwickau - from a 100% combustion engine to a 100% electric one."
In her speech, the Chancellor was particularly pleased that Zwickau was "the flagship of this change" and thus not only a cornerstone of the German automotive tradition, but also "a cornerstone of the future of the German automotive industry". On behalf of the German government, Merkel also promised her support for the rapid expansion of the charging infrastructure for electric cars as well as incentives to buy electric cars. "We know that we must hurry," Merkel said. "We are prepared to make great efforts." For her it is important that many people can afford an electric car as soon as possible - and that the electric car "literally becomes a Volkswagen, just like the Beetle and the Golf used to".
By 2028, Volkswagen intends to sell around 22 million electric vehicles across the group and help the electric car to make its breakthrough. Zwickau plays a key role in this: for the first time, a large car factory with investments of 1.2 billion euros will be completely transferred to the Electromobility retrofitted. Around 100,000 electric models are to be produced in Zwickau as early as next year. From 2021, up to 330,000 electric cars per year will come off the production line. The location will thus become the largest and most efficient electric car plant in Europe and play a pioneering role in the transformation of Volkswagen's worldwide production network.
MEB makes electric cars mass-compatible
The ID.3 is based on Volkswagen's modular electric drive system (MEB). The platform has been specially developed for electric cars and makes the best possible use of electric mobility. The ID.3 has long ranges, plenty of interior space and dynamic driving characteristics. The basic version will cost less than 30,000 euros. The market launch of the ID.3 will take place almost simultaneously throughout Europe in summer 2020. More than 35,000 international customers have already reserved an ID.3 and made a down payment as early bookers.
When it comes to sustainability, ID.3 sets new standards: it is produced in a CO2-neutral balance sheet and handed over to the customer. The energy-intensive battery cell production of the ID.3, for example, is 100 percent green electricity. Currently unavoidable emissions in the entire ID.3 production process are offset by investments in the climate protection project "Katingan Mataya Forest Protection" on the Indonesian island of Borneo.
All 8,000 employees complete qualification program
With the gradual transformation of the Zwickau vehicle plant, Volkswagen is for the first time completely converting a large car factory to e-mobility. The investments for the conversion amount to around 1.2 billion euros. In the final expansion stage from 2021, six MEB models for three Group brands will be built in Zwickau. All 8,000 employees will be prepared for the production of electric cars and the handling of high-voltage current as part of qualification measures. The Zwickau team will complete a total of around 13,000 training days by the end of 2020. This will create long-term, future-proof jobs at the Zwickau site.
Important contribution to climate protection
With its determined move into e-mobility, Volkswagen is making an important contribution to climate protection and creating long-term prospects for its approximately 100,000 employees at its German locations. In addition to production at the Zwickau plant, the component plants in Braunschweig, Kassel, Salzgitter and Wolfsburg are also involved in ID.3. They manufacture important components such as the electric machine or the battery system. The Emden and Hanover vehicle plants are also to start producing electric cars from 2022. Together with Northvolt, the Group also plans to set up a giga factory for battery cells in Salzgitter.
1 The vehicle is not yet for sale.