Volkswagen converting its German plant for ID.4 production

The VW group has started to build a second electrical factory in Germany. The factory in Emden is being converted for a billion euros.

The Passat, Arteon and, from 2022, the fully electric compact SUV ID.4 will be produced at the Volkswagen plant in Emden.

Almost two years ago, Volkswagen made the start in Zwickau, Saxony: the Wolfsburg-based car group is investing a good one billion euros there to convert its own plant to the exclusive production of purely battery-powered cars.

The first e-model manufactured in Zwickau is the ID.3. In late summer, the first customers are to receive an electric model produced in Saxony.

Volkswagen wants to become the global market leader for electric cars in the next few years. The e-models should be standard and will replace conventional cars with petrol and diesel engines for the foreseeable future. To achieve this goal, however, Volkswagen needs a lot more e-production facilities than just one factory in Saxony.

And so Emden in East Frisia is now the next VW location to be converted for the production of electric cars. “We are converting Emden into one of the most modern factories in our industry and are developing the location into another lighthouse project for e-mobility,” said Volkswagen production board member Andreas Tostmann in an interview with the Handelsblatt. Similar to Zwickau, the group is investing around one billion euros in the conversion of the factory.

Construction site

The plant in East Friesland with around 9000 employees is still the central European production location for the Passat model family. This also includes the Arteon, which is derived from the Passat and is somewhat more luxurious, the current top model from the Volkswagen brand.

ID.4 production planned in Emden

In a transition period, new electric cars and conventional Passat variants with combustion engines are to be produced in Emden. Volkswagen later wanted to take the Passat completely out of production in Emden and concentrate there, as in Zwickau, on the production of electric cars.

The production of ID models in Emden is scheduled to start in the first half of 2022. “The transition period with a mixed production is likely to take several years,” explains production director Tostmann.

While Volkswagen in Zwickau primarily relies on the ID.3, an e-car in the Golf format, production of the ID.4 is to begin in Emden. This will be the first SUV from the new Volkswagen electric family. The Wolfsburg-based company calculates that the SUV will be more important than the E-Golf in the long run. Because there is currently a growing worldwide interest in SUVs, i.e. city SUVs.

In future, the ID.4 will be manufactured at several locations around the world. The E-SUV is also expected to roll off the assembly lines in China and the USA. In contrast to Europe, the ID.4 will also be the first car with which Volkswagen enters the electronics market.

The VW factory in Emden is designed for an annual production of around 300,000 electric cars. Volkswagen is likely to reach this figure in the middle of the decade when the production of conventional combustion models in East Frisia has ended.

The group wants to achieve full capacity not only with the ID.4, but also with other new e-models. “A pure electrical factory is more efficient in the long run,” says Tostmann.

At the start of planning two years ago, Volkswagen announced that smaller electric models in Polo format would be produced in Emden. In the meantime, the Wolfsburg-based company has decided differently: These new electric cars will probably go to the VW factory in Bratislava, Slovakia, because of the lower labor costs.

Remodeling has started

Despite the corona crisis, Volkswagen started renovating the Emden factory a few weeks ago. “The large investment volume in Emden is really something special,” emphasizes VW board member Tostmann.

There is probably no other large German industrial group that is also investing a billion euros in a German location and investing in the retrofitting of an existing factory. Volkswagen is thereby making a “clear commitment” to the transformation towards electric mobility.

Volkswagen is building a new hall for the ID.4, with completion scheduled for summer 2021. After that, the production planners will have almost a year to set up the actual production facilities.

In addition, VW has to decide on a new production location for the Passat family. The group originally wanted to go to Turkey, where a completely new plant was to be built.

However, last Tuesday the VW Group board of directors abandoned these plans and canceled the construction of the new factory in Turkey. The triggers are the consequences of the pandemic: VW needs less production capacity than originally planned.

Volkswagen plans to decide on the new Passat location before the plant holidays begin at the end of July. “There are several applicants for this,” says Production Director Tostmann. The VW factory in the Slovakian capital Bratislava is one of the favorites.

This summer, Volkswagen will also start converting the van factory in Hanover. The commercial vehicle subsidiary is expected to produce the first purely electrically powered ID.Buzz in large quantities from 2022. Volkswagen has stopped manufacturing the Amarok pick-up. That’s why there was space for the E-bus, said a company spokesman in Hanover.

VW is handling amounts similar to those in Emden and Zwickau. For a transitional period, Hanover will be a mixed location for e-buses and combustion models. The complete changeover to the electric drive is planned for later.

Author: Nabeel K

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