In 2019, Volkswagen AG will take another step on its journey to series electric mobility. With the modular electric drive matrix, or MEB, the Group brands will have a joint electric-vehicle platform for the very first time – and will lay the foundation for electric-vehicle production in the volume segment.
This, in turn, will open the way for fleet customers to enter the age of electromobility at a favorable cost level. The first MEB-based model will be the compact Volkswagen I.D.: The base version of the new car will not cost more than a comparably equipped combustion-engine vehicle with DSG transmission. Series production is scheduled to start at the end of 2019. But that’s hardly all: By 2022, the four Group brands Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and ŠKODA plan to be producing 27 MEB models – and offer a wide selection in the process.
The fleet customer will then be able to select electric vehicles for different use scenarios: pool cars, user-chooser models and management vehicles. For commuters, frequent drivers and representation purposes. This is reason enough to take a closer look at the MEB, the modular electric drive matrix: What is it all about? What does the “architecture” of the new system look like? Which infrastructure measures will complement the MEB? Which benefits will fleet customers gain? We will provide you with an overview and explain the most important key words to you.
As a way of offering electromobility to everyone in the future, Volkswagen developed the modular electric drive matrix (MEB), a platform that complements the previous modular transverse toolkit (MQB). The MEB includes the most important elements on which the Group’s brands can build. The first MEB-based volume model will be introduced by the Volkswagen brand: The exterior dimensions of the new I.D. are based on the best-selling Golf compact. But with the help of the new MEB architecture and newly designed components, the vehicle will employ a remarkably roomy interior concept that you would actually expect to find in the Passat class. The key to this enhancement is the newly conceived chassis used in the I.D.
In creating this chassis, engineers were able to toss out the combustion engine and transmission. They then placed the electric motor in the rear of the vehicle and moved the front seats forward, a decision that created more room for passengers and their luggage. Drivers have a better overview of the road as well because developers raised the floor space to make room for the battery package. A positive effect of this adjustment: The raised sitting position gives the driver a better all-round view of traffic. Another benefit is created by the mid-vehicle positioning of the energy storage unit between the axles. This decision optimally distributes the vehicle’s weight on the front and back axles – and creates positive road handling in the process.
Variable battery concept
Volkswagen uses lithium-ion cells that are integrated into the battery system of the I.D. in the company’s plant in Braunschweig, Germany. The development of the battery management system is being done solely by the company itself. The location with a long tradition is already constructing the batteries for the e-up!, the e-Golf and the plug-in-hybrid Passat GTE. It is also the battery and packaging specialist with far-reaching know-how regarding power electronics, climate control and software management. The plant is currently being expanded so that it can produce up to half a million battery systems annually.
100% green power for cell manufacturing
100% green power in the Zwickau plant
100% Volkswagen green power from Elli
Second life/closed-loop recycling
+ Unavoidable emissions are compensated for through investments in climate protection projects.
The battery of the I.D. is based on a scalable module: It can take on a different number of cells depending on the desired power level. The base version will have a capacity of 45 kilowatt hours and will have a WLTP-range of up to 330 kilometers. If a higher range is needed, the customer can order one that extends up to 550 kilometers. Incidentally: The newly designed battery of the I.D. will have increased energy density, more than a comparable e-Golf, for instance. As a result, it can deliver more power thanks to its reduced weight – and facilitate increased kilometer levels.
In short: The battery management and range of the I.D. can also meet the needs of frequent and long-distance drivers.
Charging made easy
One challenge faced by e-mobility is the charging infrastructure – but much has happened in this area in the recent past: The network of electric filling stations is continuously expanding. Germany had more than 16,100 public and semi-public charging points at the beginning of 2019, according to a study by the German Association of the Energy and Water Policy. Every 10th such point is a fast-charging station. The further systematic expansion of the charging infrastructure is a crucial success factor for the launch of the e-mobility age.
An operator who has specialized in charging with up to 125 kilowatts of power – and that even wants to offer 350-kW stations – is a joint venture called IONITY. It is an initiative that includes not only Volkswagen, but also other major car manufacturers like BMW, Daimler and Ford. The aim is to build stations throughout the European freeway network, ideally at filling stations, rest areas and travel centers. The maximum distance between charging points should not exceed 120 kilometers – and drivers should need no more than about 30 minutes to charge their vehicles (for about 80 percent of total capacity).
In its own study, Volkswagen took a closer look at the average usage scenario: Only 5 percent of charging activity was done on freeways. Fifty percent of charging was done at home, 20 percent at work and 25 percent in public places. For this reason, the company is offering its own charging solution for the I.D. – or the entire I.D. family: A device called a wallbox that will come in two versions and can perform 70 percent of charging activity. The “low” model is designed for home use by end customers. The “high” wallbox model is designed for user-chooser fleets and has billing capability. Operational applications are scheduled to be gradually added to this hardware portfolio – with things like higher performance and bi-directional direct current charging. Elli (Electric life) will take the lead here. The new Group subsidiary offers energy and mobility solutions for private and commercial customers (see Page www.elli.eco/en/naturstrom).
Ultra-quick charging technology
It could soon be as fast to charge an electric vehicle as it is to refuel. The prototype of a charging station with a charging capacity of up to 450 kW was presented at the end of 2018 in Jettingen-Scheppach, a town near the A8 between Ulm and Augsburg.
A Porsche research vehicle with a net battery capacity of around 90 kWh achieved a charging capacity of more than 400 kW in tests. Now available for use free of charge, the new charging station is suitable for electric models of all brands that use the globally popular Combined Charging System (CCS) in the type 2 variant that is favored in Europe.
Strategy: Two product lines
With the I.D. family, Volkswagen is making a paradigm shift in its model philosophy. Background: Volkswagen will become one of the first car manufacturers to offer conventionally powered cars such as the Polo, Golf, T-Roc, Passat, Tiguan and Arteon alongside all-electric models like the I.D. family on a standalone basis. Compared with other strategies based on multi-traction matrixes (a platform with both conventional and all-electric drive systems), the separation of the product lines will pay off for customers in several ways: In the MEB, a system designed strictly for electric vehicles, the wheelbase can be lengthened and body overhangs reduced, resulting in more dynamic proportions. The designers used this as their basis to create a standalone design DNA for the new zero-emission vehicles. The larger wheelbase creates much larger and more versatile vehicle interiors.
Electric offensive: Audi
By 2025, Audi will be selling twelve cars with purely electric drive in the most important markets worldwide. The conditions for this will be established with four technical platforms and product families. In the high-volume A-segment in particular, Audi will be using the modular electric drive matrix. The first MEB-based model will be the Audi Q4 e-tron*, scheduled to go into production in 2020. The concept version of the vehicle has already been presented at the Geneva Motor Show. There will also be a family of electric SUVs with electric all-wheel drive quattro, for which Audi will use components from its own modular longitudinal matrix. A joint project with Porsche is the pioneering Premium Platform Electric (PPE) electric architecture, on which several Audi model families will be based.
Electric offensive: ŠKODA
For Czech carmaker ŠKODA, 2019 marks its entry into the age of electric mobility. One hundred twenty-four years after its founding, the company is launching the SUPERB PHEV with plug-in hybrid drive* and the E-CITIGO*, a purely battery-powered electric vehicle. The first MEB-based production vehicles will follow in 2020, with other electric models to follow. At the Geneva Motor Show, the VISION iV*concept car showed how the first ŠKODA based on the modular electric drive matrix (MEB) could look.
Electric offensive: SEAT
The SEAT el-born* is the first fully electric vehicle of the Spanish brand. It is based on the modular electric drive matrix and will be the second MEB vehicle of a Group brand to go into production, with a planned start date of 2020. The el-born was designed and developed in Barcelona and will be produced at the German Volkswagen plant in Zwickau, which is being expanded to become the first all-MEB plant and the largest center of expertise for electric mobility in Europe as part of an investment of €1.2 billion.
Always on! Und: Up to date!
With the modular electric drive matrix, Volkswagen is committing itself to electric vehicles – and will make them future-proof by using a completely new electronic architecture. The car will be connected to the Internet throughout its entire service life and will be capable of receiving system updates and upgrades over the air as a result. Of course, the vehicle will be constantly connected to users via their mobile devices. These users will be able to access system data and manage certain functions while they are on the go, among other things.
Three high-performance computers – the in-car application servers, or ICAS – will enable MEB vehicles to drive autonomously in the medium term and will facilitate highly automated, stage 3 driving. The vehicle will then be able to drive completely by itself on long trips and in certain traffic situations like freeways. But the driver must be able to take control within a matter of seconds to deal with things such as construction sites.
Augmented reality displays like the current head-up display in a virtual version are planned for MEB vehicles.
Electric for all
- Modular e-drive matrix
- I.D. family: 4 concept cars close to series production
- Compact series I.D. starting in 2020
- A total of 27 MEB-based Group models by 2022
- Range of 330 kilometers to 550 kilometers
- IONITY offers charging capacity of 125 kWh
- 100,000 MEB vehicles will be built
in Germany during 2020
ID. – made in Germany
Most of Volkswagen’s locations in Germany are working to develop and produce the first MEB-based electric cars, including Braunschweig, Salzgitter and Kassel as locations of Volkswagen Group Components. These three plants alone will receive €1.3 billion of the €6 billion total that the company plans to invest in electromobility.
The battery system representing the heart of the I.D. will be manufactured here. Up to 500,000 battery systems are scheduled to be produced at this traditional location annually.
Salzgitter started the pre-production of rotors and stators for the MEB in 2018. In the Battery Center of Excellence (CoE), development and manufacturing expertise for battery-cell and battery module production is being developed. This work includes a lab line that will be followed by pilot manufacturing to acquire production know-how.
This site has been the center of expertise for electric drive systems for many years. Production of the completely new MEB drive system developed by Group Components for the Volkswagen brand will start at the end of this year. This location is the lead plant for low-priced, high-quality electric drive motors.
Zwickau and Dresden
The series models of the I.D. family will be made in the eastern German state of Saxony. Zwickau is being converted into an all-MEB plant and the largest center of expertise for electromobility in Europe as part of an investment of €1.2 billion. The Gläserne Manufaktur facility in Dresden is currently being converted into the Center of Future Mobility. Customers and visitors will learn more about the future of mobility as part of an interactive world of experiences that focuses on electromobility and digitalization.
Emden and Hannover
Volkswagen will also convert its Emden and Hanover plants for the production of electric vehicles, beginning in 2022. Together with the Zwickau plant, these three sites will become Europe’s largest e-production network.
The I.D. from the e-mobility series was devised and developed by Technical Development at the main plant in Wolfsburg.