Every summer, most car companies shut down their assembly lines for annual maintenance and to make the changes needed to produce next year’s models. This year, at Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle factory in Hannover, Germany, the company made preparations to begin production of the 7th generation of its Multivan, which will be built on the company’s MQB platform. That means the new Multivan can be powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time.
[Note: When I visited the Zwickau factory 2 years ago, the press corps was ferried about in T6 vans from Volkswagen and they were supremely comfortable transportation devices fitted and finished to a high standard. It is regrettable that Americans have turned their backs on such practical, functional vehicles. They make excellent camper vans as well!]
While those upgrades were going on, Electrive reports the factory added two new production lines for the upcoming ID. Buzz that is expected to arrive early next year. “Not only is the technology state-of-the-art, we have also planned and set up the workplaces in accordance with the latest ergonomic findings,” says Lars Peters, Head of Vehicle Construction at the Hannover factory.
Changes were also made to the paint shop at the factory to accommodate the latest commercial vans and the ID. Buzz. Here’s hoping it will be able to apply the yellow and silver livery featured on prototypes that make it look so appealing.
Not far from the Hannover factory is another Volkswagen production facility in Stöcken. This month, 8 small assembly areas were demolished to make way for a new larger facility that will be dedicated to making “premium e-models,” including D segment battery electric SUVs similar in size to the Volkswagen Atlas.
Production Halts In Zwickau & Dresden
Meanwhile, MDR Sachsen reports that Volkswagen is halting electric car production at its factory in Zwickau this weekend because of the global shortage of computer chips. As cars become more like computers on wheels, those chips are essential not only to items like battery management systems but also electric power steering and brakes, climate control systems, and the ubiquitous touchscreens that no one can live without today. The chip shortage is also affecting the company’s main factory in Wolfsburg, where a production slowdown is expected to last into early next month.
The shortage of chips is interrupting manufacturing all around the world, proving once again the prophetic wisdom of Scottish poet Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.” Hard to argue with that.