Volkswagen Gears Up for ‘Affordable’ BEV Production

Volkswagen is investing $482M in its drive to produce ‘affordable’ compact urban BEVs in Europe.

Among the biggest hurdles facing all-electric vehicles is the sky-high forecourt price tags of current models compared to ICE powered cars. Now Reuters reports Volkswagen will make this huge extra investment into its Wolfsburg plant by 2025 with most of the funds to be spent for the production of its entry-level BEV the ID.3, brand chief Thomas Schaefer said this week.

After full production of the compact car gets underway, expected by 2025, an additional BEV in the SUV segment will be produced at the plant on the MEB platform, an electric-only platform used since 2019. The timeline for production of the ID.3 is on track, with partial production from 2023 and full production expected in 2024. The automaker said an electric drive kit, which incorporates structure and design of a vehicle, is now being adapted into a new version, which will be called MEB+ and would allow for faster charging times and longer ranges.

Retooling production locations in Wolfsburg, which employ around 60,000 workers producing models including Golf, Tiguan and Touran, to make electric vehicles has been top on the agenda for the workers council amid fears the plant could lose relevance in the shift to electric mobility. Output from the flagship plant has been on a downward spiral since 2015 when it produced around 800,000 vehicles, dropping drastically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic to under 400,000 a year.

Schaefer added that the carmaker was still facing “flat-out chaos” on the supply side as suppliers cancel major orders on one night’s notice. The carmaker will decide by February whether to produce a new Trinity electric sedan at the main Wolfsburg plant or build a new factory for the model close by.

On the upcoming SUV, Schaefer said: “This is the largest vehicle segment worldwide, in which our beloved Tiguan also belongs. The new model will add to our bestseller ID.4 and ID.5 models and expand our market position.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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