ICE Age Ends at Massive VW Plant
Volkswagen has produced more than 6 million vehicles at its plant in Zwickau, Germany, over the past 30 years, averaging about 250,000 Golfs, Passats and Polos annually in recent years.
All of these cars have had an internal combustion engine. Until now.
On Friday, VW produced its last ICE-powered vehicle—a Golf R wagon with a 2.0-liter four-banger.
Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory transitions to EV production. (Image: VW)
Moving forward, Zwickau will build electric vehicles. Exclusively.
The company will ramp up output of the ID.3 hatchback this autumn (production of the inaugural ID.3 1st Edition already has started).
Five other Audi, SEAT and VW EV models will be added to the mix later. All are based on the carmaker’s modular electric toolkit (MEB) platform, which is designed specifically for EVs.
All told, the carmaker plans to produce 330,000 EVs next year in Zwickau. By VW’s calculations, this will make the German factory the highest volume EV plant in Europe.
That distinction likely will be short-lived, though. That’s because Tesla plans to open its third global mega-facility next year with its own plant in Germany that will have annual capacity of 500,000 units.
Work to be Done
ID.3 EV (Image: VW)
VW has budgeted €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) to convert its 19.4 million-sq-ft plant from ICE models to EVs. The company already has started the process in Hall 6, where the Golf previously was built.
All 8,000 Zwickau employees also are in the process of being retrained to build electric cars and to handle high-voltage components. Collectively, the team will complete some 20,500 days of training by year-end.
Why it Matters
Zwickau is just the first step in VW’s electrification transition. The company plans to spend €33 billion ($37 billion) by 2024 to develop and build the next-generation models.
Across its various brands, Volkswagen Group plans to introduce 30 EVs by 2025 and 75 over the next 10 years.
It all starts with the $33,000 Golf-like ID.3 in Zwickau—a plant whose origins date back to the beginning of the auto industry, starting with Audi’s predecessor, Horch, in 1904.
From the point of view of structural engineering and assembly, electric vehicles are a whole lot simpler than those with internal combustion engines, which probably goes a long way to explain why there are so many startups showing EVs.
In order to keep the Classic of interest, Ram Truck has gone back to 1976, the year they launched the Dodge Warlock, a “factory-personalized” pickup, and have created the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock.
As OEMs and suppliers seek lightweight solutions to meet higher fuel economy standards through multi-material structures, conventional welding techniques are beginning to give way to new solid-state joining methods better suited for creating strong bonds between dissimilar metals.