If you are looking forward to owning an ID. Buzz, the all electric successor to the Volkswagen Microbus, you will be delighted to learn that Volkswagen has committed to purchasing the digitally controlled KUKA industrial robots needed to manufacture it. The robots will be installed at the company’s commercial vehicle factory in Hannover, Germany. In a press release dated November 25, KUKA Systems says it will be “responsible for the planning, delivery, assembly and commissioning of a fully automated body shop system for the underbody of the all-electric ID. BUZZ.”
“Intelligent systems are needed to meet the requirements for the cost effective production of complex e-vehicles. Close cooperation between systems engineering and the automotive industry is more important than ever here,” says Gerald Mies, CEO of Kuka Systems.
MAN Begins Series Production Of Electric Buses In Poland
MAN Truck & Bus, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, announced on November 29 that series production of its 12 meter Lion City electric buses has begun at its factory in the Polish city of Starachowice. The first customers will be VHH, the public transportation agency for the German city of Hamburg and the Holstein region. An articulated 18 meter version is expected to begin series production in about 6 months.
“I am very pleased that we are now able to offer the innovative and multi-award winning Lion’s City E in series production. The start of series production is an important milestone on the eMobility Roadmap for MAN Truck & Bus and for the Starachowice site. We are thus expanding our production portfolio and consistently taking another step towards sustainable mobility,” says Michael Kobriger, a member of the MAN Truck & Bus board of direcors. “I would like to pay tribute to the entire team, which has worked tirelessly and across departments to develop a reliable electric bus and successfully integrate it into production.”
In addition to Hamburg – Holstein, the company has received an order from the Swedish city of Malmö and Nobina Sverige AB, Scandinavia’s largest bus operator, which has ordered 22 MAN Lion’s City E electric buses.
Volkswagen Group Components
We tend to assume that auto manufacturers make all the parts for their vehicles themselves. They do not. They rely on suppliers for thousands of pieces from windshields to tires, brakes, seats, door panels, and key fobs. There are as many people who work for those suppliers as work for the companies themselves.
As part of its transition to a manufacturer of electric cars, Volkswagen Group has created a new division known as Volkswagen Group Components which actually manufacturers many of the parts that make up its MEB based cars. For instance, according to a company press release, 40% of the parts needed to build the ID.4 electric SUV are sourced internally from Volkswagen Group Components.
The rotors and stators for the electric motors used in MEB based cars are manufactured at Volkswagen’s Saltgitter factory, then sent to the Kassel factory where they are combined with motor housings, gearboxes, and intermediate housings from the Hannover and Poznań factories into completed electric drivetrains for cars built in Germany and later in the US. The electric drives for the Chinese market are produced at the Tianjin factory. In all, Volkswagen Group Components is one of the largest global producers of essential electric vehicle components.
Thomas Schmall, CEO of the independent unit, says, “The considerable share of added value that our components contribute to the vehicles of the Group brands is an indicator of our competitiveness. It underpins the Group’s electric offensive and shows that we have taken the right product decisions regarding our future focus. This means that Volkswagen Group Components is on the way to becoming one of the largest manufacturers of automotive e-components worldwide.”
Lastly in this news round up, Reuters reports that Volkswagen is accelerating development of a smaller electric vehicle that may be known as the ID.1 in a push to offer a Polo sized EV that sells for between $24,000 and $30,000. You won’t see any photos of the new car, known internally as Small BEV, because none exist. But just as the ID.3 bears a family resemblance to the Volkswagen Golf, the smaller, less expensive electric car will probably look very much like a derivative of the current Polo.
Volkswagen did not provide details on what the vehicle might look like, when it might be launched or where it might be built, what size battery it may have, or what its range might be. It did tell Reuters the European Union’s more stringent emissions rules will force it to boost the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in its European car sales to 60% by 2030, up from a previous target of 40%.
Sources say the existing MEB chassis is too large to accommodate a car that is smaller than the ID.3 so significant modifications to that platform will be necessary if the company decides to go ahead with the ID.1. But first, there needs to be a business case for the Small BEV and apparently Volkswagen believes there is if it has begun the downsizing process. An informed but still speculative guess is that such a car might go on sale in 2023.
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