VW have been quietly ramping up behind the scenes to start mass producing electric vehicles. It came out recently that VW have been retooling an existing manufacturing plant at Zwickau to start producing EVs and only EVs, and to most people that looked like brand new news. In fact they started changing the plant over to EV only back in 2018. When it hits peak production this facility will have grown from 250,000 internal combustion engined cars produced in a year today, to 330,000 EVs produced in a year. In fact they have apparently already rolled more than 200 ID 3 pre-series vehicles off the production line already. The employees here will be manufacturing six models for three brands: Volkswagen, Audi and Seat. The Group is investing a total of €1.2 billion in the ultra-modern site in Saxony.
The first mass production vehicles are scheduled to roll off the assembly line at the end of 2019. From the end of 2020, only electric cars will be built in Zwickau – up to 1,500 per day for Volkswagen and other Group brands. Phase 1 of the conversion has been successfully completed with half of the 1,500 new robots in the body shop converted and already in operation. The paint shop is currently being expanded and the conversion of the first line in final vehicle assembly is scheduled to start this summer.
Now this is one big operation with more than 8,000 staff, but already, more than 2,800 of them have been trained in EV manufacturing skills and techniques. Oh and unlike GM, no mass strike.
On the 8th of May Volkswagen announced the name of the all-electric model and launched the pre-order campaign online for the premiere edition, which they limited to 30,000 vehicles. Within 24 hours after opening the pre-sale, Volkswagen received over 10,000 ID.3 reservations throughout Europe. In fact they received so much online traffic that they crashed their servers. I’ll bang on about it again - if you don’t think there is demand for EVs well you’re just plain wrong.
Not happy enough with retooling the plant to manufacture EVs, VW is working hard to make this factory carbon neutral as well. Through the process of modernising the plant, the energy supply at the Zwickau was also upgraded. In addition to the obvious use of green electricity from carbon neutral electricity generator/retailers, the insulation levels across the entire factory (think of a small town) have been upgraded. Of course the plant won’t be completely emission free, but VW are committing to offsetting the remainder of their energy footprint by purchasing carbon offsets.
So far we know of the concept car names:
The ID 3 will have a base cost of 30,000 Euro, which works out around $50,000 NZD, so hopefully under $60,000 once everything is factored in.