...Thomas Ulbrich, member of the board of management of the Volkswagen brand responsible for e-mobility and Christian Senger, responsible for the development of the all-electric architecture.
Mr. Ulbrich, Mr. Senger, what does “E-Mobility for All” stand for?
We want to popularize EVs and get as many people as possible excited about electric cars. The new communicative umbrella for our electric offensive embodies the essence of the Volkswagen brand: to make innovative technologies accessible on a broad scale. That was the case in the past for the Beetle, it holds true today for the Golf and it will also apply in the future for the ID.
Christian Senger: The slogan “E-Mobility for All” marks the beginning of the crucial phase of the I.D. launch: in Dresden from Monday, the media will be getting their first look at the series technology.
EVs are still part of a niche market. What’s missing to bring about the breakthrough?
Thomas Ulbrich: Basically, there are two types of EVs at the moment: the first has long ranges and digital connectivity, but is very expensive. The second is more or less affordable, but often not particularly attractive. People want both, though: a great electric car at an affordable price. That will bring about the breakthrough for EVs. And that is precisely what we will be putting on the road with the I.D.
How are you going about it?
With the modular electric toolkit (MEB) we have developed a platform designed specifically for electric cars. The I.D. models aren’t combustion engine versions that have been converted, they are 100%, thoroughbred electric vehicles. And they will always be online and upgrade- and update-ready. So we’re making optimal use of the possibilities this technology brings …
Thomas Ulbrich: …and creating massive economies of scale at the same time. Some 10 million Group vehicles will be based on the MEB in the first wave alone. The MEB is the economic and technological backbone of the electric car for all.
Is the customer really interested in the type of platform?
A special electric platform like the MEB brings very big advantages for the customer. It means we can install larger batteries, for example, and that alone brings a much bigger range. Not only that, the car holds the road really well thanks to the flat battery in the floorpan. And there’s much more space inside. Outside, the I.D. is the same size as the Golf, but it has as much space in the interior as a Passat. I could well imagine “made on the MEB” becoming a sign of quality for Volkswagen in particular and EVs in general.
Thomas Ulbrich: We’re driving the first I.D. prototypes at the moment. And I have to say that Christian Senger, his team and the colleagues in Development have come up with a sensational car.
Lots of manufacturers are working on platforms for electric vehicles. What is Volkswagen doing that is different?
Thomas Ulbrich: The platform that Volkswagen is developing is more consistent and innovative than many of the other platforms. Our MQB has already proved we are auto industry professionals when it comes to platforms. Now, we’re transferring this know-how and this strategy to the electric age. By 2022 alone, four Group brands will be ramping up 27 MEB models worldwide, ranging from compact cars to the lifestyle Bulli. That is totally unique.
Production of the I.D. in Zwickau is scheduled to start at the end of 2019. How are preparations coming along?
Thomas Ulbrich: We’re right on schedule. The hardware is ready, the contracts with battery suppliers have been signed and preparations for SOP in Zwickau are underway. Preliminary planning work there is already finished. Now it’s time for the earthworks. We are looking to start pre-series in the new body shop in early 2019. We have divided the transformation at Zwickau over the next year and a half into a total of eleven phases. Currently, we’re in phase one.
Mr. Senger, you said at the beginning that you will be giving the media their first look at the I.D. series technology in Dresden from Monday. What’s your highlight?
Christian Senger: That’s easy – the “rolling chassis”. We’ll be presenting the I.D. chassis minus the bodywork or interior but plus the entire technology from the drivetrain to the battery.