Volkswagen shows the base of its electric strategy
With its purely electrical MEB platform, Volkswagen has the intention to make the electric car a success story. The first electric VW comes in the second part of 2019 on the market, after that there will be a small avalanche of electric Volkswagens, all under the I.D. name, VW’s manner to differentiate the electrified products.
“Already in 2020 we plan to produce 100.000 electrical vehicles on the MEB platform”, says Thomas Ulbrich, member of the board at VW, responsible for electromobility. MEB signifies ‘Modulare ElektrifizierungsBaukasten’ or modular electric toolkit.
“Volkswagen is launching the largest e-mobility ever seen”, he continues. “By 2025 the brand will bring more than 20 fully electric cars to our customers. We will invest 6 billion euro in the development and production of our electric fleet.”
In Germany it’s the VW Zwickau plant that will be converted to a fully electric plant. At the end of 2019, six different E-models should be coming from the (completely transformed) line, all based on the MEB platform.
That’s so flexible and modular that you can build the I.D. Neo (a Golf-size car) but the I.D. Crozz (a coupé-like crossover) as well, and the I.D. Bulli (a revisited T1, VW’s first little bus), or a 5-meter-long sedan.
There will also be other brands from the group producing cars on the MEB platform in Zwickau. Audi, for example, with a compact crossover, or Seat, with a SUV of the same (compact) format. Skoda will use the same platform but assemble its E-cars in the Czech republic.
Modular doesn’t only mean that different vehicles with different shapes and measurements can be based on the MEB platform, it includes also a modular battery system. Battery packs are sitting under the floor and can be scaled differently to the size and energy needs of the car. The platform is rear-wheel driven but can also have all-wheel drive when a second engine is installed in front to drive the front wheels.
In VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg the hope that Europe will soon convert to electric vehicles is not very high. Their first target is China and that’s why it’s not so astonishing that the manufacturer is planning two assembly plants for E-vehicles on the MEB platform, one in Anting (near Shanghai) and one in Foshan (near Hong Kong), where the Audi A3 and VW Golf are already assembled.
The suppliers of the battery cells for the MEB platform are also a proof that South Eastern Asia is the place to be for electrification. The electric cars of the VW Group will first be powered by battery cells made by Chinese LG Chem and Korean Samsung.
“With our first E-model portfolio, all based on the MEB platform, we want to reach a production volume of over 10 million cars”, concludes Ulbrich. “That gives us the necessary advantage of scale to sell our electric cars at a price worthy of the name Volkswagen (‘the people’s car’).”