Forrest Gump liked to say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you aren’t likely to end up there.” On November 5, in Zwickau, Germany, Reinhard de Vries, executive director of production and logistics for Volkswagen in Saxony, laid out his company’s plan for manufacturing electric cars, chapter and verse. Can we have the first slide, please? Here we see how the ID.3 fits in with the history of the company. (Note: all slides courtesy of Volkswagen.)
For those of you who have been asking about pricing for the ID.3, the next slide has the best information available on that subject.
The factory in Zwickau used to build Golf and Golf Variant models. One of two production lines has been shut down and converted to electric car production. The other is scheduled to shut down — what Volkswagen calls “end of production” — next year, at which time it will also be converted to electric car production. The company plans to introduce 6 new models for its Volkswagen, SEAT, and Audi brands at the rate of one every 3 to 6 months on its way to building 330,000 electric cars in Zwickau by 2021.
Volkswagen is taking aggressive steps to build its electric cars in a carbon neutral fashion, beginning with using as much renewable energy as possible to manufacture its battery cells and vehicles. It also has devised a battery recycling plan to address the question of what happens to EV batteries when they are no longer suitable for use in electric cars.
The next two slides show the configuration of the factory before the changeover began and what it will look like once the transition is complete.
This next slide may be the most powerful of all. It shows how the company has merged engineering and artistry to create its new electric vehicles. On one hand, they are examples of Germany’s well deserved reputation for superb engineering skills. On the other hand, they incorporate the artistic talents made famous by Beethoven and Bach. Left brain and right brain, brought together in a celebration of what human beings can accomplish when they work together collaboratively.
Pre-Production Begins In China
Volkswagen began turning out pre-production examples of the ID.3 in Zwickau several weeks ago, prior to the beginning of series production on November 5. At the launch festivities, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said his company was also preparing to build electric cars at two factories in China. What he didn’t tell us was that the manufacture of pre-production cars would begin the same week.
According to CNBC, Diess was in Shanghai Friday to make that announcement. It has invested $2.5 billion into constructing a new manufacturing facility for electric cars in conjunction with its Chinese partner, SAIC Motor Corp. “The move goes in line with Volkswagen’s (electric) e-mobility initiative,” he told reporters during a tour of the factory. Volkswagen has a second Chinese factory for electric cars under construction which should begin turning out cars before the end of next year.
Electric cars are big business in China, which now requires all manufacturers to produce a certain percentage of electric cars or face substantial fines. The Chinese system is modeled after the EV mandates that California’s Air Resources Board put in place years ago. Volkswagen is one of four major manufacturers — along with Ford, BMW, and Honda — which have agreed to work with California to build cleaner cars in coming years, a move other manufacturers are fighting with all their might.
It can truly be said that Volkswagen sees electric cars as the future and is pushing ahead with realistic plans to benefit from the transition to e-mobility. It knows where it is going and how to get there, which is more than can be said about many of its competitors.