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Volkswagen Converting Assembly Plants in Order to Build Europe's Largest EV Production Network

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【Summary】VW announced that it will convert two more plants in Germany to build electric vehicles, creating what the automaker said will be Europe's largest EV production network.

FutureCar Staff    Nov 14, 2018 12:03 PM PT
Volkswagen Converting Assembly Plants in Order to Build Europe's Largest EV Production Network
author: FutureCar Staff    

As global automakers put together plans to add fully-electric models to their lineups, Volkswagen Group is going all out and preparing for a mostly electric future. The automaker is preparing to switch to producing millions of electric models over the next decade.

VW announced that it will convert two more plants in Germany to build electric vehicles, creating what the automaker said will be Europe's largest EV production network.

The two factories in Emden and Hanover will build battery-powered models starting early next decade, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Emden plant will begin building EVs in 2022, VW said, without saying which models these will be. The 4.3 square meter Emden plant currently builds the VW Passat and Arteon sedans. Volkswagen will convert its Hanover factory to build the upcoming  I.D. Buzz, a retro-looking electric version of the classic VW bus, with production likely beginning in 2022, VW said.

VW said the Hanover plant will maintain some production of combustion-engined vehicles. The Hanover plant is the largest industrial employer in the Hanover region and employs around 14,000 workers.

Volkswagen's Emden plant first opened in 1964 and produced the VW Beetle when it first opened. The demand for the Passat and Arteon have fallen as consumers switch to SUVs and smaller crossovers, which have become popular. The sudden shift in consumer preference is causing an industry-wide slump in sedan sales, as well as diesel models. In Hanover, VW builds the Tiguan SUV, Amarok pickup, T6 van and Crafter electric van.

1200px-Volkswagen_press_conference,_IAA_2017,_Frankfurt_(1Y7A2015).jpg

The VW I.D. Buzz concept on display at a press event in 2017

Production of the models currently manufactured at Emden and Hanover will be shifted to other assembly plants, VW said. The group's supervisory board will decide on plant allocations on Friday, it said.

VW has already invested 1 billion euros to convert its factory in Zwickau, Germany, to build cars based on its new MEB electric architecture, a platform designed for the mass-production of EVs.

EV production in Zwickau will start with the VW brand's I.D. electric car range in 2019 with the first I.D. vehicle, a hatchback based on the VW Golf. The first I.D. vehicle is scheduled to launch in 2020. A new model, the I.D. Crozz crossover will follow.

The plant will also build battery-powered MEB models for its Audi and Seat divisions. By late 2020, Zwickau will have a daily production capacity of 1,500 electric vehicles, making six electric car models, VW said.

Volkswagen said it was switching it focus to electric vehicles, as the company's reputation was severely damaged by the dieselgate scandal. The company admitted to tampering with diesel emission controls in order to falsify emission readings during testing.

The software was installed on millions of diesel-engine vehicles in order to cheat stringent emission requirements. The fallout also brought attention to the harmful emissions produced by diesel engines, leading to a slump in diesel sales as consumers switch to greener models.

Some cities in Europe are even considering a ban on diesel vehicles entirely to curb pollution, so VW's planned switch to building millions of electric vehicles is a proactive one.

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