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Volkswagen Wolfsburg Factory. Courtesy of Volkswagen

Cars

Volkswagen Reveals Plans For Wolfsburg Factory

Volkswagen continues to ponder what course It wants to take to the electric car future under new CEO Oliver Blume.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the news from Volkswagen, with all the twists and turns in corporate governance that have occurred in the past few months. A week ago, we reported that a refreshed ID.3 is coming next spring. Just a day ago, we brought our readers news about how the company is planning an MEB+ electric car platform it said would serve the needs of virtually all electric cars from Volkswagen Group.

That seemed to be a repudiation of the SSP chassis being developed while Herbert Diess was in charge and a hint that the so-called Trinity project was being placed on the back burner. Shortly after that story was published, Volkswagen issued yet another press release that puts SSP and Trinity back in the picture, albeit somewhat belatedly.

Volkswagen now says it will invest €460 million in the main factory in Wolfsburg by the beginning of 2025. That investment will be used primarily to make the necessary preparations to produce the new ID.3. Limited production will start in 2023, with full production slated from 2024.

Here’s the interesting part. Volkswagen now says that after full production of the updated ID.3 is achieved, there will be “a further all-electric model for the booming SUV segment to boost Wolfsburg’s capacity utilization for EV production over the long term. The technical basis for the new model is the Modular Electric Drive System. Volkswagen’s e-car platform is to undergo substantial further development as the MEB+, thus becoming even more efficient.”

Now hold onto your hats, people. The Wolfsburg factory will, in fact, be the place where cars spawned by the Trinity project are produced, and they will be based on the SSP platform. And when will that be? By the end of 2033 at the latest, when Volkswagen expects to be manufacturing only electric vehicles.

Speaking to employees recently, Thomas Schäfer, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, said: “Volkswagen stands for electromobility for everyone. And Wolfsburg will be part of this success story. Here at our main plant alone, we will be investing some €460 million by the beginning of 2025, getting the factory ready for the MEB.

“The ID.3 ramp-up is the first important step towards the electrification of our main plant. At the same time, we are working closely with the Works Council to bring a further electric model based on the MEB+ to Wolfsburg. This will be a high volume model for the booming SUV segment. With these strong decisions and investments, we intend to bolster the competitiveness of this factory further and give the workforce a concrete long term perspective.”

Works Council Chair Daniela Cavallo said, “Wolfsburg stands for the future. And the Works Council has a clear ambition for the Wolfsburg site — state of the art production, the best workforce, and the biggest pioneering spirit. That means Wolfsburg will remain the brand’s — and the Group’s — powerhouse in the coming years with the transformation to electric production, an additional all-electric model by 2026, along with Trinity and the SSP. We will develop the detailed timetable together. That is how we are creating secure jobs. I would also like to thank the entire production team at our main factory that has weathered many a crisis in this difficult year.”

Revamping The Wolfsburg Volkswagen Factory

The first step towards the factory’s electric car future involves re-equipping the site for the ID.3, the company says. That car will begin leaving the assembly line in Wolfsburg starting in 2023. It will continue to be manufactured in Zwickau as well. For the Wolfsburg factory, which is the largest factory in the Volkswagen Group, this will be the first electric vehicle based on the MEB platform.

Brand CEO Thomas Schäfer indicated there are plans to produce an electric SUV based on the MEB architecture at the Wolfsburg factory in the future. “That is the largest vehicle segment worldwide, it is home to our popular Tiguan. The new model would ideally complement our bestselling ID.4 and ID.5. This is how we intend to expand our market position further and give our customers the high quality vehicles they expect from us,” he said.

“The MEB still has significant potential. Our ambition is to take this platform to the next level. To that end, we are making substantial investments in advancing this technology. The MEB+ puts us in an excellent position for the coming years.” The MEB+ will enable faster charging speeds and longer range. Volkswagen plans to use the highly standardized unified cell manufactured at the Group’s own cell factory in Salzgitter, which is slated to begin production in 2025.

With its Accelerate program, Volkswagen launched a strong brand strategy for the electric and digital era of mobility. It says its Energize program gives this strategy a further boost and is designed to make the Volkswagen brand shine. “The lodestar of the strategy remains the Trinity vehicle project based on the highly scalable SSP platform. The project will get underway in line with staggered software development. A decision on where the vehicle will be built in Wolfsburg has not yet been taken. That is why Volkswagen is keeping the option to build a new factory in Warmenau open.”

Oh, ho! So Diess’ dream of a new, modern, super efficient factory in Wolfsburg is not dead. Moribund might be a better word for it.

The Takeaway

If you are having difficulty keeping up with all the twists, turns, and reversals in course at Volkswagen since Herbert Diess was pushed overboard and Oliver Blume took the reins, you’re not alone. The changes are coming so thick and fast that it seems like someone is — or several someones are — whispering in Blume’s ear, telling him what he should or shouldn’t do. Don’t forget that the Porsche and Piech families still own a controlling interest in Volkswagen and their highest priority is not spending money, it is making money. The German state of Lower Saxony also is a significant shareholder and wants to see the jobs of its inhabitants protected.

Job One at Volkswagen is not bringing out new SUVs or creating new platforms; it is figuring out the software mess that has affected its electric cars from Day One and continues to this very moment. Unless and until is gets that corrected, it can build all the electric cars it wants but will have difficulty convincing people to buy them.

Is that all the news from Volkswagen for this month? Don’t bet on in. Oliver Blume is still getting his bearings in his new position. But if there is more news from Wolfsburg, we will share it with you as soon as it arrives at the CleanTechnica 24 hour, 7 day a week global communications center.

 
 
 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?

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