Volkswagen Group is walking the walk when it comes to being part of the EV revolution. While other manufacturers are promising some plug-in hybrids and a few battery electric vehicles some day in the not too distant future, God willing and the creek don’t rise, Volkswagen has finished converting its factory in Zwickau to build only electric cars and has begun doing the same at its Emden facility. Meanwhile, Porsche has begun the same transition at its factory in Leipzig.
Ralf Brandstätter, CEO du jour of the Volkswagen brand, said in a press release this week that the first electric cars are expected to roll out of the Emden factory in 2022. Emden will begin its excursion into building EVs by manufacturing the ID.4, an all-electric midsize SUV based on the MEB platform. “Even in the coronavirus crisis, the Volkswagen brand is consistently moving ahead with the changeover of its plants to e-mobility in line with its plans. The conversion of the Emden plant has already started and the first electric cars are to roll off the production line there from 2022,” he says.
During the conversion process, production of the Passat sedan and estate and the Arteon Shooting Brake will continue for several years. When the conversion is complete, Emden will be capable of producing up to 300,000 electric cars a year. Part of the conversion process is the construction of a new 50,000 square meter factory building where only electric vehicles will be assembled. The press shop and body shop are also to be expanded by 23,000 square meters. The paint shop is to be modernized and a new “bi-color hall” with an area of 6,000 square meters is to be constructed for painting vehicle roofs black. The two-color paintwork is one of the trademarks of the ID. family.
“We are converting a major automobile plant during production,” says plant manager Uwe Schwartz. “We are proud to be the first plant in Lower Saxony to produce both internal combustion and all electric models.” Some workers from Emden have been part of the transition to making electric cars at the Vokswwagen factory in Zwickau, which is now building only electric cars. When they return to Emden, they will help workers there acclimated to the differences between building electric cars and cars powered by gasoline or diesel engines. Ultimately, Volkswagen factories in Zwickau, Emden, Hanover, Zuffenhausen, Dresden, Mladá Boleslav, Chattanooga, Foshan, and Anting will be converted to building electric cars as the company moves ahead with plans to offer 20 EV models by 2024.
Porsche Converts Leipzig Factory To Electric Cars
Not to be outdone, Porsche, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, is moving ahead with its own plans to build electric cars. It has begun a major enlargement of its factory in Leipzig to build the third generation battery electric Macan. The £600 million project includes a 75,500 square meter body shop and is the fifth major factory reconfiguration since the Leipzig factory opened in 2000.
“Over the past few weeks, we have reached some important milestones on our way to becoming an electromobility site,” says Gerd Rupp, chairman of the executive board at the Leipzig factory. “The period of time between now and the start of production of the next Macan generation is certainly going to be a challenge. However, it is also an opportunity to future-proof the plant and to prove ourselves as a team.”
“Porsche in Leipzig has evolved from an assembly plant to a technology driver for the entire European automotive industry. The milestones for developing the drive technologies of the future are being set right here in Leipzig”, says Mayor Burkhard Jung.
In addition to the work on a new body shop, Porsche is expanding the existing production line during the annual summer factory shutdown. When the work is complete, three different drive types will be produced on a single line: petrol, hybrid, and pure electric vehicles. This new setup will give the Porsche Leipzig plant maximum flexibility. To support electromobility, the customer center at the Leipzig factory now features an array of high power chargers with a combined total capacity of 7 MW. It operates exclusively on electricity from renewable resources.
Workers at the Emden facility have been building hybrid electric cars for a decade, so they are no strangers to electric propulsion. “Our employees have years of experience in dealing with alternative drive types. They can’t wait to start working on electric vehicles in addition to our hybrid models”, says Gerd Rupp. “We think it’s important to involve the entire workforce in the upcoming change so we have already initiated the qualification measures for the purely electric Macan.”
While other manufacturers dither, Volkswagen is busy doing. The first ID.3 cars are scheduled to be delivered in September of this year and the much anticipated ID.4 should begin series production before the end of the year. Exciting times for the Wolfsburg-based company.
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