Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory is switching 100% to electric vehicles. It will produce a total of 6 models from 3 Volkswagen Group brands (Volkswagen, Audi, and Seat). Today was the last day it produced a fossil fuel vehicle, vehicle #6,049,207 from the factory under Volkswagen’s reign, a Golf R Estate.
The factory goes back much further than Volkswagen’s start in 1990, though. It goes back 116 years! Horch started producing cars there in 1904! Volkswagen produced almost two-thirds of the vehicles ever produced there, but other auto brands that put their fossil-fueled cars together in Zwickau included Audi, DKW, Trabant, and others. Have a look:
The production capacity of the factory is supposed to grow to 330,000 vehicles a year — again, all electric.
“Today is a historic day for us. We are proud of what we have achieved so far, and at the same time are greatly looking forward to what the future holds for us,” Reinhard de Vries, Managing Director of Technology and Logistics at Volkswagen Sachsen, said. “The trend towards electric mobility will continue to pick up speed. We will meet this demand from Zwickau: we have already created the capacity to build 330,000 vehicles next year.” In total, 8,000 people work at the Zwickau factory.
Hall 6 of the factory needs to be reworked for production of the Volkswagen ID.3 there, and that is supposed to take several weeks, but then Volkswagen will launch into higher-volume production of what could be its first mass-market electric vehicle in Zwickau. (I imagine we’ll get a news update about that as well.)
The Volkswagen ID.4 will also be produced in Zwickau, with start of production planned for later in the summer as well. It is an electric SUV that will also be produced and sold in North America (the ID.3 won’t be, as it’s considered too small for the US and Canadian markets). Photos of the ID.4 were leaked last week in a Volkswagen forum, and it looks quite hot.
An electric Audi SUV is also supposed to be produced in Zwickau, which would presumably be a slight variation of the Volkswagen ID.4, and the SEAT el-Born should be produced there, a variant of Volkswagen ID.3.
I know many Volkswagen critics assume the company is all talk and no game, but the fact is, the company is putting €1.2 billion into converting this factory to make 330,000 electric vehicles a year, and that conversion is supposed to be complete next year. You don’t drop €1.2 billion on a project like that when you’re just playing. The company has invested in the electric vehicle transition in many other ways — and with a lot more cash — as well.
As I concluded recently, the ID.3 looks very competitive with the Golf model it will essentially come in to replace. It will take some time, but as people learn the ID.3 offers a much better driving experience, greater safety, and lower cost in the same class — all with zero emissions. Furthermore, the cost benefit will only get better for the ID.3 over time!
The e-Golf is still being produced in Dresden at Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory until the end of 2020. It will then be fully phased out and the ID.3 will be produced in Dresden as well as Zwickau in 2021.
A commenter helpfully notes, “VW is already building/retooling production lines to have 8 factories producing EVs in 2022.” These 8 factories are:
- Germany: Zwickau, Dresden, Hanover, and Emden
- Czech Republic: Mlada Boleslav
- USA: Chattanooga (Tennessee)
- China: Anting and Foshan
The electric vehicle revolution is alive and happening. There has been much criticism of Volkswagen’s challenges transitioning to electric, connected vehicles, as well as dirtier matters long before the transition that helped stimulate the transition, but I’m personally very excited to have another serious player in the electric vehicle industry (aside from Tesla) that is aiming to produce electric vehicles at a very large scale and surely even dreams of becoming the world’s #1 electric automaker someday. Volkswagen Group has some challenges and weaknesses, but it also has some strengths, a lot of talent, and what seems to now be a firm commitment to the transition. I think I’m more excited to see the ID.3 get into mass production than I’ve been for any model since the Tesla Model 3.
- 19× More Invested In EVs & EV Batteries In Europe Last Year Than In 2018, 60% From Volkswagen Group
- Volkswagen ID.3 1st Edition vs. Volkswagen Golf — 5 Year Cost of Ownership Estimates
- There Will Be Blood — Peter Mertens, Former Head of Audi R&D: “We All Did Sleep”
- Volkswagen, Where Are You Going?
- Volkswagen Employees Begin ID.3 Real World Driving Trial, Hands-On Experience At Glass Factory
- Volkswagen Software & EV Transition — Updates From Execs
- You Can Now Order A Volkswagen ID.3
Top/featured photo courtesy Volkswagen