Volkswagen is driving the transition to e-mobility with a consistency and commitment unlike that of virtually any other automaker. As part of the ELECTRIC FOR ALL campaign launched today, the brand will be putting attractive models at affordable prices on the road, paving the way for the breakthrough of electric vehicles. The electric offensive is based on the modular electric drive matrix (MEB), a technology platform developed specifically for electric vehicles. Production of the Volkswagen ID., the world’s first series vehicle based on the MEB, will begin in Zwickau at the end of 2019.
At the launch of the ELECTRIC FOR ALL campaign, media representatives from all over the world are being given their first deep insight into the technological basis of the ID. at a media workshop in the Gläserne Manufaktur in Dresden, where Volkswagen is demonstrating the centerpiece of the MEB – the rolling chassis without the bodywork and interior – exactly as it will be used in series models. Volkswagen is also seizing the initiative when it comes to charging infrastructure: a design prototype of the “VolksWallbox” is also being premiered in Dresden. This Wallbox is an affordable home system that makes charging the ID. family easy and convenient.
ELECTRIC FOR ALL stands for the Volkswagen brand’s vision and central promise: to make innovative technologies accessible to many customers. The MEB is the key to the “electric car for all”: it enables a hitherto unachievable price-service ratio and will be instrumental in transforming the electric vehicle from a niche product into a bestseller. Brand Board Member for E-Mobility Thomas Ulbrich commented: “We will make electric vehicles popular and get as many people as possible excited about electric cars. The MEB is one of the most important projects in the history of Volkswagen – a technological milestone, similar to the transition from the Beetle to the Golf.”
MEB: the technological platform for the electric age
The systematic platform strategy is one of Volkswagen’s unique selling propositions. It testifies to the power the brand and the Group are investing in e-mobility. Thomas Ulbrich said: “We are making optimal use of the possibilities the electric car has to offer and creating massive economies of scale at the same time. Some 10 million vehicles across the Group will be based on this platform in the first wave alone. The MEB is the economic and technological backbone of the electric car for all.”
As Christian Senger, Head of the E-mobility Product Line, explained, the MEB platform brings significant benefits for customers: “The ID. will be a milestone in technological development. It will be the first fully connected electric car with full everyday utility that millions of people will be able to afford.” The MEB will make it possible to install larger batteries, for example. That alone significantly enhances the range. “The car holds the road really well thanks to the flat battery in the floorpan and the space inside is much more generous – we are making substantial headway with the sense of spaciousness.”
Furthermore, the MEB bundles Volkswagen’s entire production knowledge: it is not a platform for vehicles with combustion engines that has been retroactively modified, but has from the outset been designed to be 100 percent, uncompromisingly electric. As Ulbrich put it: “Our Modular Transverse Toolkit already proved Volkswagen is one of the most successful platform developers in the auto industry. Now, we’re transferring this know-how and this strategy to the electric age. By the end of 2022, four Group brands will be ramping up 27 MEB models worldwide, ranging from compact cars to the lifestyle Bulli. That is something quite unique.”
All members of the ID. family are designed for fast charging. Using fast charging systems, the battery can be charged 80 percent in about 30 minutes thanks to a completely new, significantly more powerful battery system developed by Volkswagen Group Components. Senger explained: “The use of a new generation of high-performance batteries begins with the ID. models. Thanks to their modular design and the multi-cell format, these batteries can be installed in smaller or larger ID. models.”
ID. family: e-mobility made in Germany
In every respect, the Volkswagen ID. will be an electric car made in Germany. Most of the Volkswagen locations in Germany are involved in the development and production of the first MEB-based electric cars, including the Volkswagen Group Components sites in Braunschweig, Salzgitter and Kassel. The company is investing €1.3 billion of a total €6 billion budgeted for e-mobility at these three sites
The ID. was conceived and developed by the E-mobility Product Line and Research and Development units at the main plant in Wolfsburg. This is also where the pre-series model is currently being built in the pilot hall and will subsequently be put through its paces at the Ehra-Lessien proving grounds.
Zwickau and Dresden
Volkswagen will be building the series production models of the ID. family in Saxony. €1.2 billion is being invested in Zwickau to become the first pure-play MEB plant and the largest competence center for e-mobility in Europe. The Gläserne Manufaktur began building the Volkswagen e-Golf1 back in April 2017. The plant is evolving into a “Center of Future Mobility”. Customers and visitors can enjoy an interactive encounter with e-mobility and digitalization to discover more about the future of mobility.
The Braunschweig plant will manufacture the battery system, the heart of the ID. This factory with a long history already builds the batteries for the e-up!2, the e-Golf and the Passat GTE3 plug-in hybrid. Braunschweig is today the battery and packaging specialist and has extensive know-how in power electronics, battery cooling systems and software management. The plant is currently being expanded so as to be able to build up to half a million battery systems per year in future.
The plant starts pre-series production of rotors and stators for the MEB this year. The Battery Cell Center of Excellence (CoE) is amassing development and manufacturing competence in battery cells and battery module production. This currently includes a lab line to be followed by pilot production with a view to building up production know-how.
The Kassel plant has already been the competence center for electric drives for many years. Production of the entirely new MEB drive developed by Group Components for the Volkswagen brand begins at the end of this year. The site is the lead plant for high-quality, cost-efficient electric motors.