Volkswagen ID.3 Wins Design Awards & Volkswagen Battery Plans Slowly Progress

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I think it’s fair to say the Volkswagen ID lineup and the Ford Mustang Mach-E are the non-Tesla electric vehicles I’m most excited about these days. I have no personal interest in buying them, since I’m very happy with my Tesla Model 3, but I think they look like superb electric vehicles and I have the sense they can be big mass-market players if Volkswagen and Ford play their electrons right.

Image courtesy Volkswagen

The Volkswagen ID lineup, led by the ID.3, has been getting a good deal of attention outside of EV world and all across the auto industry as well — both from paid promotion and unpaid enthusiasm. One of the latest items of hype, from earlier this month over in Germany, is Volkswagen won 5 awards in the Automotive Brand Contest 2020. The ID.3 won two of those, named “Best of Best” (which I guess just means best) in the “Exterior Volume Brand” and “Interior Volume Brand” categories. The praise from the panel of German judges:

“The ID.3 is expressive, featuring a curved yet simultaneously tight line with coherent interior and exterior. The ID.3 is an impressive contemporary interpretation of Volkswagen’s typical, enhanced design idiom – it is the long-awaited, young Volkswagen boasting the courage required to spark a new movement.”

The judges come from the media, design professions, industrial companies, higher education institutions, and even the world of architecture.

I may not be one of the esteemed members of the judging panel, but I agree with the assessment of the ID.3. My humble Floridian opinion: it look good.

Okay, adding a little bit of sophistication, I do think it provides an excellent blend of old, class VW and the future, providing something like a “space age” version of a VW Golf for a newer, cleaner, more tech advanced, more woke era of our society. I also love the color choice and think that, overall, the car’s got a fairly appealing look while remaining in its generally generic and bland mass-market category. (And I’m using those words in the best possible way — I understand this is what consumers seem to want.) I love the headlights as well and think VW did a bit better than Tesla with the aerodynamic wheel covers.

The ID. SPACE VIZZION won the “Concepts” category, and the 2019 Golf (the 8th generation of the Golf) also won in the “Exterior Volume Brand” and “Interior Volume Brand” categories.

Image courtesy Northvolt

While the above was going on, Volkswagen was closing some new negotiations and planning with Swedish battery startup Northvolt.

“It has been decided that Volkswagen itself will erect the buildings and infrastructure for the joint venture’s ‘Northvolt Zwei’ factory that is to produce lithium-ion battery cells, in order to leverage synergies at the Salzgitter site – based on the existing Center of Excellence for Battery Cells. Some €450 million is to be invested in this project. The joint venture will then rent the factory space. Battery cell production at the plant is scheduled to commence in early 2024 with an initial production capacity of 16 gigawatt hours.”

That all looked good and exciting to me … until I got to the bit about 2024. We have to wait 4 years for this?!? Progress is progress, but slow progress is slow progress. The companies joined forces to create the “European Battery Union” in early 2019 and the automotive giant was investing €900 million into Northvolt by the middle of 2019. They then formed a joined venture in early September 2019, and the 16 GWh 2024 factory was announced then. The news this month is basically just that they finally determined who would pay to get the project off the ground (Volkswagen).

Volkswagen does highlight this is simply more about a long-term play and remaining masters of their own destinies. For the coming few years, the company seems fine relying on outside battery suppliers like CATL, LG Chem, SK Innovation, and Samsung SDI — the latter three for Europe, CATL for both China and Europe, and SK Innovation for the US market as well via battery production facilities in Georgia.

“We are optimizing the Volkswagen Group’s strategic position in the key future field of batteries”, said Dr. Stefan Sommer, Volkswagen Group Board Member for Components and Procurement and a member of the Northvolt AB Board of Directors. “In addition to a very secure supply base with external producers, we are also systematically building up further capacities.”

By 2025, Volkswagen Group plans to have 150 GWh of annual battery demand for its growing and presumably popular lineup of fully electric vehicles. That includes vehicles from Volkswagen, Audi, ŠKODA, Porsche, SEAT, and other Volkswagen Group brands. As a refresher:

“The Group is planning to launch almost 70 new electric models in the next ten years. As a result, the projected number of vehicles to be built on the Group’s electric platforms in the next decade will increase to 22 million. Volkswagen is therefore investing more than €30 billion into the electrification of the fleet by 2023. Expanding e-mobility is an important building block on the road to a CO2-neutral balance. Volkswagen has signed off a comprehensive decarbonization program aimed at achieving a CO2-neutral balance in all areas from fleet to production to administration by 2050. Volkswagen is thus fully committed to the Paris climate targets.”

So, 16 GWh out of 150 GWh represents nearly 11% of the conglomerate’s expected battery needs in the middle of this brand new decade. We’ll see how these plans develop and I hope to report on the plans climbing up the timeline rather than falling backward, but so far it seems the Volkswagen–Northvolt partnership is just sticking with its initial schedule.

Volkswagen ID Buzz
Image courtesy Volkswagen

There are many people skeptical about Volkswagen’s electric vehicle plans, unable to trust the “Dieselgate” firm that has been hyping electric vehicle concept cars for about a decade and sometimes massively missing its target. However, I think its plans have been clear, consistent, and backed up with real cash money for the past few years. It takes a long time to get true, electric-from-the-ground-up, cost-competitive electric models out the door, but the timelines has basically been consistent (when not sped up) and Volkswagen Group hasn’t been backing down from what seems like a laser focus on its electric future.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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