The Volkswagen brand is actively promoting its electric offensive, thus creating global production capacities for the construction of one million electric cars. The center of the transformation is Zwickau in Saxony
The Volkswagen brand is actively promoting its electric offensive, thus creating global production capacities for the construction of one million electric cars. The largest and most efficient electric car factory is emerging in Zwickau, where up to 330,000 electric cars will be produced annually – more than at any other site. As the first-ever volume manufacturer, Volkswagen is shifting an entire factory over to e-mobility. Currently, the Golf and Golf Variant are produced in Zwickau. The compact ID, the first pure e-car, will then be introduced to the site starting at the end of 2019. During the final expansion phase, 6 e-models from 3 brands will be produced in Zwickau.
“The start of production for the ID. in one year will usher in a new era for Volkswagen,” says Thomas Ulbrich, the Board Member responsible for e-mobility at the Volkswagen brand. “We want to ensure e-mobility becomes an established concept that is accessible to millions of people in the form of e-cars. This requires large quantities and efficient production. Therefore, we are consolidating the e-car production in Zwickau and transforming the factory into the nucleus of our extensive e-offensive. As the world’s first-ever MEB location, Zwickau will assume a trailblazing role for this future technology.” MEB – that is the new modular electric drive matrix from Volkswagen.
With the ID. produced in Zwickau, Volkswagen wants to deliver a model to customers for the first time that is produced CO2-neutrally across the entire supply and production chain. In the manufacturing process, the generation of CO2 is avoided or reduced as far as possible - and the unavoidable emissions are offset by climate protection measures. The measures to avoid CO2 during the production of the ID. also include the energy-intensive production of battery cells: It has been agreed that suppliers will use green electricity to manufacture the cells. This is a very large lever with which the ecobalance of the e-car can be further improved.
The Zwickau factory already converted to green power, stemming from hydro-power plants from the Austrian energy provider Verbund, in 2017. The remaining emissions stemming from its own thermal power station with highly efficient combined heat and power will be compensated by certified climate projects in accordance with officially recognized standards as soon as production of the ID. starts. Thomas Ulbrich: “We want to make a substantial contribution to climate protection with our electric cars. Therefore, it is crucial that electric cars are built and used in a sustainable manner. The ID. will serve as a role model in terms of climate protection.
Conversion of the vehicle factory in Zwickau will occur in several steps. By the time of the planned production start of the ID. in November 2019, the first production line will be gradually converted. The second production line will be converted in the same manner in 2020 and be put into operation that same year. The maximal production capacity will increase from 1,350 to 1,500 vehicles per day and will presumably be achieved by 2021. The transformation of the factory has already started and is currently on schedule.
The e-mobility also creates enduring sustainable jobs in Zwickau. The 7,700 employees at the site are being prepared for the new world with an extensive advanced training offensive. All of the employees are currently partaking in informative events pertaining to the topic of e-mobility. Moreover, 3,000 employees are participating in courses at the e-mobility training center, which is aimed providing in-depth training for new production-related challenges. In addition, approximately 1,500 employees are getting what is referred to as a high-voltage driver’s license, to ensure they are prepared for working with high-voltage systems. The Zwickau-based team will complete a total of around 13,000 days of training.
Digital, efficient showcase factory
As part of the conversion, the Volkswagen plant in Zwickau will be transformed into a digital, flexible and highly efficient showcase factory. This will entail the use of, for example, smart Industry 4.0 robots and driverless transport systems, which bring components to the assembly line in an entirely autonomous manner. In assembly, the degree of automation will increase nearly threefold. Altogether, Volkswagen will invest approximately €1.2 billion in the transformation of the Zwickau plant.
“The global automotive industry is undergoing a far-reaching structural change. We as the Volkswagen brand are actively promoting this transformation –also in order to create viable jobs for the future for our employees throughout the world,” said Thomas Ulbrich, the Board Member responsible for e-mobility at the Volkswagen brand. “The conversion of Zwickau to make it the number one e-site represents strong acknowledgment of Germany as an automobile production location. We will also ensure that it becomes a leader for electric cars and therefore solidify this position in the long run.”
Automobile manufacturing has a long tradition in Zwickau: The Zwickau-based company August Horch & Cie. Automobilbau AG began producing vehicles already over 100 years ago. Later on, Horch became Auto Union AG, which was ultimately the precursor of AUDI AG. Following the Turnaround in 1990 in Germany, Volkswagen returned to the region with the foundation of Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH. Today, approximately 7,700 are employed at the Zwickau site and last year they manufactured around 290,000 vehicles. With the MEB manufacturing, Zwickau will assume a trailblazing role regarding the introduction of this future technology starting in 2019. Thomas Ulbrich: “The Zwickau team has the know-how and passion required to build electric cars that offer the highest level of quality.”
A total of six German Volkswagen sites are involved in the development and production of the Volkswagen ID. The model was devised and developed by the E-mobility Product Line and Research and Development units at the main plant in Wolfsburg. The battery system representing the heart of the ID. will be manufactured in Braunschweig. The plant is currently being expanded so that it can, in the future, produce up to half a million battery systems annually. The completely newly developed MEB powertrain will be built in Kassel in the future. And this year Salzgitter will start with the pre-production of rotors and stators for the MEB.
All electric cars to be manufactured in Zwickau in the future are based on the new modular electric drive matrix, which is abbreviated as MEB. This was developed especially for fully electric cars and optimally takes advantage of the opportunities presented by e-mobility. MEB vehicles offer larger ranges, more space and a variety of new, digital services. The brand plans to distribute more than one million electric vehicles every year at the latest by 2025 to become a global market leader in e-mobility.