We Visit Volkswagen’s Dresden Factory: Get Inside Scoop On EV Plans

SEP 23 2018 BY TOM MOLOUGHNEY 67

A site so clean and unlike any we’ve ever seen before.

Volkswagen’s “Transparent Factory” located in the center of Dresden, Germany originally opened in 2002, and was responsible for manufacturing the Volkswagen Phaeton until March 2016. It then began a 13-month transformation that would see the Gläserne Manufaktur (Factory made of glass) converted into a facility that would solely make electric cars, the e-Golf to be exact.

A Volkswagen e-Golf moves along the assembly line in Dresden, Germany. The body and drivetrain of the vehicle pictured are about to be mated.

Volkswagen claims that was the first time that any automobile manufacturer converted one of their existing factories from making internal combustion cars to exclusively making electric cars. Today the factory makes 72 cars per day – not exactly high-volume, but this is a small plant, and cannot produce the thousands of cars per day that larger auto plants can. During the workshop we were told that VW’s transition to electric cars has become the top priority of the manufacturer. They expect to be the world leader of EVs by 2025, at which time the Volkswagen Group will have 50 different all-electric models for sale.

“The MEB modular electric drive matrix is probably the most important project in Volkswagen’s history, similar to the transition from the Beetle to the Golf”

Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management, Volkswagen Group

So how does VW plan to scale up its planned electric vehicle production? Simple, they were the first to completely convert an existing plant from ICE to electric, so they’re doing it again. However this time it’s not a small, low-production plant. This time it’s their plant in Zwickau, a factory capable of producing 330,000 cars per year. The transformation will begin in 2019, and be completed in 2020.

Volkswagen’s new MEB platform will accomodate a variety of all-electric cars in the coming years.

Volkswagen aims to be producing 100,000 all-electric (BEVs) cars in Zwickau by 2020, and more than 300,000 within a few short years. All of these vehicles will all use Volkswagen’s new MEB platform, a skateboard design used exclusively for all-electric vehicles, and will not be employed in PHEVs. Dresden and Zwickau won’t be the only VW factories making purely electric cars, though. VW will be building a new factory in North America (site undetermined at this time) dedicated exclusively for EVs, as well as one in China, and adding BEV production in existing factories across Europe. These plants will combine to make 1,000,000 all-electric cars by 2025.

Speaking of 2025, that’s the year Volkswagen predicts that they will transition their EVs to solid-state batteries. Until then, they will be using both prismatic and pouch cells, initially from Samsung and LG Chem, but representatives were clear that they may use other sources in future years.

A Volkswagen rep explaining the differences in cylindrical, prismatic and pouch battery cells, and why Volkswagen is electing to use the prismatic and pouch cells, but not cylindrical.

Volkswagen’s new slogan is “Electric For All”, and during the workshop, they repeatedly reminded us that they are, and have always been “the people’s car”, and that their goal is to “build electric cars for the millions, not just for millionaires”. The plan is to bring electric mobility to the masses, as they did many decades ago with inexpensive, affordable gasoline cars. It seemed pretty clear that they were taking a not-so-veiled shot at Tesla with regards to the cost of their electric cars today.

Volkswagen has already announced the first four EVs to come from the brand using the MEB platform. The first is simply called the I.D, and is a Golf-like hatchback which will launch in late 2019. Next up is the I.D Crozz which is a mid-sized crossover, and will arrive in 2020. Those two vehicles will be followed by the I.D. Vizzion, a full-sized sedan and the I.D. Buzz, an all-electric MPV that looks like a futuristic version of the famed Microbus. Both the Vizzion and Buzz are expected to arrive in 2022.

We learned at the battery workshop that all of these vehicles will have different battery size options. This is made possible by the flexibility of the MEB platform. Volkswagen can add battery modules to the chassis for customers that prefer to have a longer range. The MEB platform allows for battery trays that house 7, 9 and 12 battery modules. The I.D. hatchback, the smallest of the I.D. family, will have battery options between 48 kWh and 62 kWh. The larger cars will have larger packs, and the Vizzion will have battery pack options up to 111 kWh available.

The gel seen in the photo spreads out along the bottom of the module when it is inserted into the battery tray. This improves the performance of the battery management system.

We were also told that Volkswagen gets fully assembled modules delivered to them from the manufacturers, unilke competitors like BMW that get the raw cells delivered, and assemble the modules in-house. The battery packs are actively cooled and heated, with the thermal management system located beneath the floor that houses the modules. When the modules are installed into the battery tray, they are compressed into a gel that spreads across the bottom of the module, and the gel conducts the heat and cooling better than if the modules simply sat in the aluminum battery tray.

Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen Board Member, discusses VW’s e-mobility strategy at the Transparent Factory, in Dresden, Germany.

Volkswagen has some grand plans for their EV program and is really talking the talk. Only time will tell if they will follow up on these promises, but after spending a day at their EV workshop, from our perspective, they are indeed serious about transitioning the brand and the entire VW Group to EVs. Fifty new all-electric cars by 2025, and every car sold in the Volkswagen group (that includes Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini) will be either electric or offered in an electric form by 2030.

If they do manage to accomplish that, there’s a very good chance that they will be the world leader in electric cars a decade from now. However, saying it and doing it sometimes proves to be two different things entirely. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now because it really seems like they have turned a corner on electric mobility. However, as with everyone that makes these grand EV promises, we’ll be watching very closely, and reporting their progress or lack thereof.

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67 Comments on "We Visit Volkswagen’s Dresden Factory: Get Inside Scoop On EV Plans"

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Remember vaporware? This is vaporev. Coming real soon now. What a bunch of bs.

Do you really think any current car maker will avoid building electric cars in a very near future?
If you think so, I believe you are wrong, future will tell.

Same as the Y and the Pickup from Tesla – all vaporware too…

Some vapor condenses and comes back as rain (see current model 3 floods), VW vapor just gets lost in space. No one questions VW capability, their intent is questionable.

Lots of talk as usual – business as usual flogging diesels and Gasmobiles as fast as they can.
100, 000 in the first wave during 2020 ? Are they serious? Should Tesla tremble at the knees waiting for VW to produce much?
zzzzzzzzzzz at least more of a chance for Tesla to ramp up production more… opens eyes and watches as Tesla walks past VW in productivity. Smiles a bit…

Are you…serious? Should they just not sell any cars at all until they have an all-EV line-up? Like what’s your actual point here?

Where did I say they they should stop selling cars? The point is ramping up to 300,000 cars is going to take a long time according to this ” and more than 300,000 within a few short years.” I am serious .. this isn’t a large quantity at all. Which is why I said “Business as usual” … I dont feel they are in a big hurry to get into EV’s at all…but..
As far as the story of all the 50 new models go, I am interested and so would most be.. Perhaps though, when they finally get to 300, 000 evs per annum, it is just possible that others are going to overtake them in production numbers. So sure , they might be , as the story above mentions, be “taking a shot at Tesla” But not only Tesla, alos others , may have plans to manufacture EV’s that in production numbers might just be better than 300,000 per annum.

300k is one factory they have like 60 of them of various sizes.

Sorry, I missed this part “These plants will combine to make 1,000,000 all-electric cars by 2025.” Now I feel better about the article.. and thanks Tom for the story. I do hope that they reach the million in 6 years time.

I hope they do it, it would be great. But going back a decade, Audi/VW has a reputation for killing their concept EV’s. Here is a story from 2010 of them killing the A1 etron and VW up!

http://www.plugincars.com/five-canceled-electric-car-concepts-lessons-learned-45148.html

Anyone can go through the archives here and see car after car they did press releases with, and then silently killed. I wish I were wrong about that, but their record just isn’t that good. Hopefully they will prove me wrong.

To be fair the A1 sucked. It would be viable if rapid charging tech existed then, but it didn’t arguably doesn’t yet. A 30kwh battery would be fine if you could rapid-charge it in under ten minutes.

It was a charge depleting PHEV. The 30 kWh battery was supposed to last much further than any of the other less than 30 kWh cars that were actually sold back then. It would have sucked less than other sub 100 mile EV’s.

But my point is we will never know because they never built it.

I’d say there’s a high chance we’ll get one now with the new platform. If they’re smart, we’ll get one.

WOW!! Wholly schmores Batman… VW killed the eUP in 2010 yet managed to sell just over 1,000 in Germany and just under 1,000 in Norway last year never mind the rest if the eU.

https://ev-sales.blogspot.com/2018/01/germany-december-2017.html?m=0

Who could have clonned the eUP??? and sold this This THIS!!! VAPOWARE!!! In VWs name??
It could only be the commies those no good dastardly deed doors…

So grab your popcorn and come back tomorrow for the next installment of days of our lives…

I grabbed my popcorn and came back tomorrow. Turns out VAG news was that they are making the etron special order only with no dealer stock. The next installment of days of our lives isn’t so good:

https://insideevs.com/audi-no-stock-e-tron-dealerships-special-order/

And no, bringing back the UP after 7 years later after killing it does NOT disprove my point of VAG having a poor record of delivery. It actually just proves my point.

You’re mistaken. The e-Up! has been available since 2013 or 2014. So indeed, it was not killed, it was delayed.

That link is useless and outdated. VW didn’t kill e-UP! You can buy e-UP! right now. I think you secretly hate VW/Audi with a passion. Get over it, and VW is coming and providing us the cool, affordable EV cars. Deal with it.

The point of the link is that they’ve been killing EV’s for a good long time. They most definitley killed the UP. Bringing it back 7 years later doesn’t contradict that story or my point at all.

I’ve been very open with my disdain of VAG for their failure to bring EV’s to market, while joining a bunch of ICE car companies in cheating with their diesels.

I have over 300K miles of Audi ownership under my belt over my lifetime, so it is a disdain that VAG earned through their failures, not a bias against them.

“Dresden and Zwickau won’t be the only VW factories making purely electric cars, though. VW will be building a new factory in North America (site undetermined at this time) dedicated exclusively for EVs, as well as one in China, and adding BEV production in existing factories across Europe. These plants will combine to make 1,000,000 all-electric cars by 2025.”

“A million all-electric cars by 2025” is at least more than nothing.

Tesla will produce at least 2 million EV’s in 2025.

Tesla will probably not produce 2 million EVs by 2025. I guess they could very well be over 1 million by then, though. If they have the pickup, semi and Y running and can keep up their 3 sales at 500k, they might even get over 1.5 million.

First, though, they need to get the 3 to 500k, finish the Y and ramp that up to 500k and then release the pickup and ramp that up. They will additionally need at least one more factory, if not 2, producing cars and batteries. And since none of those two have started being built and Tesla doesn’t really have cash to build them right now, over 1.5 million in 2025 might actually be ambitious.

There will be at least two more Gigafactories in the US (for the production of batteries and EV’s). After the Tesla Model Y will have been revealed (in March 2019), Tesla will reveal more details about their plans regarding expansion of production capacity.

I thought it would be one in China and one in Europe? No matter what, we will eventually find out. But still, since there are 0 built right now and I doubt that they could cram in even more into Freemont, they won’t be able to build more cars very soon. And since Tesla has close to 10 billion in debt, they will probably try to pay off a junk of that, before they start building new billion dollar factories. So here is my personal speculation: the China one will be started to get built in late 2019, being finished some time in 2021 and the European one will start in late 2020/ early 2021 but at a slower initial pace, being finished in 2023-2024. With ramp up times I guess they could sell over 1.5 million in 2026. With the 3 and Y being built in Freemont, Europe and China, some of the Freemont 3 production will therefore switched to build Ys. And the pickup being mostly built in the US, so maybe even another factory for that one? IMO that is actually pretty ambitious and optimistic. Tesla would have to increase R&D cost by a lot, since they… Read more »

Both Gigafactories (China and Europe) will be ready in 2021.

After that two more Gigafactories in the US will be completed as well. Probably in 2022.

The main market for Tesla is the US.

Elon said China GF will be producing 250k by 2020, and 500k by 2023. And that is factory that has an location, and everything. European GF is totally unknown for now. It will *maybe* be completed in 2025. As for next US GF i have no idea, it is really needed, but you can’t really finance building of 2 or 3 GF at the same time, or Tesla will be able to?

Capital is always looking for good investment opportunities.

Why do you think the Saudi’s asked Elon to take Tesla private?

Because those that lead the KSA are very smart about managing their future, and how to successfully manage Aramco, and their massive sovereign wealth fund.

There are many Monarchies in the Middle East, that need to make their own business model transition, from a fossil fuel dependent revenue stream, to other forms of profitabe renewable energy distributed networks.

From Wikipedia:
“His famous line, “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.”

So applying Elon time 500k/yr by 2025.

They don’t have the capital for that…

They will have all the capital they will need.

The unknown here is the possibility of Tesla making a $25 k car. If they can reveal that in, say 2021, and start mass producing it in 2023, the 2 million/yr is a given.

Thanks for the article.
One thing as an information: “Manufaktur” does not translate to “factory” directly. If I understand correctly the word “factory” means a place where something is built. That would be “Fabrik” in german. The “Manufaktur” specifically adds a meaning that said something is produced by hand – or manually (at least to the extend you _can_ produce a modern car by hand). That’s why the factory is so slow in producing cars: 36 per shift. The majority of E-Golf output comes from the Wolfsburg plant where it’s produced on the same line as the ICE-Golf. Dresden is mostly a showcase of how it’s done.

Yup. “Manufaktur” would probably best be translated as “manufactory”, an uncommon word in English, but then so is Manufaktur in German.

So, two interesting items were said in this article 1) VW will make 50 battery electric models in 2025 2) VW will make battery electric cars at a rate of 1 million per year in 2025 When you combine those two items, I calculated that, on average, each model will be made at a rate of 20k/year. Now that is really depressing. Tesla Model 3 proves that EV’s are at the brink of beating ICE cars in nearly every respect. The Model 3 costs about as much as it’s direct competitors and already beats them at TCO. The weight of the Model 3 is getting very close to its competitors. This the progress that Tesla made from the first Model S in 2012 to where we are today in 2018. Now predict from today to 2025. Is there anybody who doubts that EV’s will be cheaper than ICE cars? Is there anybody who doubts that EV’s will weigh less than their fossile powered counterparts? If both EVs are cheaper and weigh less (improves efficiency and handling), who will buy the other 9 million ICE powered cars from them? I will make an argument here that VW is scamming us again,… Read more »

The average of 20k/y per model seems perfectly reasonable. While you can sell more than 100k ID and ID Crozz cars and maybe close to 100k of the ID Vizzion. On the other hand cars like the eUP siblings will sell 10k a year max, probably more like 6k for each of the 3 brothers. The Porsche Taycan and the etron GT will also sell way less than 20k each per year. You can’t scale the production lines for the initial rush on the cars you have to size them for the demand that can be sustained. It should be clear that VW has some experience with how many cars of what type you can realistically sell in which markets. The important thing is that more EVs at lower prices come to market.

Just read your comment for the first time. I tried to give you +1 but got the message that I already up voted it. Clearly I didn’t. Weird.

Bingo. The first thing people learn about averages (as in the arithmetic mean, which is what people normally talk about, even if without knowing it, when they use the word “average”) is that it is susceptible to extreme values. One or two high volume models will pull the average up even in the presence of some very low volume models.

I wish I could separately up-vote your last sentence. This is what I keep preaching here: The rEVolution is more important than any one brand or model or charging standard or business model. Shift a lot of people from driving on gasoline to using electrons and every person on the planet benefits.

Tesla will produce more EV’s than any other car manufacturer in 2025.

Not very likely if VAG will have alreadey 16 EV plants ready bay 2022.

By 2025 there should be demand for over 90 million cars per year. Tesla and VW could both easily sell two million each. That isn’t contradictory.

That’s optimistic. The total global market for cars and trucks today is about 90million/yr.

I didn’t count trucks. Actually I didn’t count at all I searched what is predicted by others.

“16 EV plants ready by 2022”

Then why only 1 million EV’s in 2025?

With 16 EV plants they should easily be able to manage the production of 2 million EV’s in 2025.

It’s one million for just the China plant and North America plant combined. Previously announced roadmap-e calls for 3 million by 2025.

“3 million by 2025”

That sounds much better.

China: 1.5 million
Europe + US: 1.5 million

That’s the target for 2025.

VW aims to produce 3 million EV’s in 2025, and half of them will then be produced in China.

The “1,000,000 by 2025” mentioned in the text is NOT the global total number.

If their Chinese factory produces at target by then this is possible. It is hard to judge what will be 7 years from now.

It’s not that difficult. The Tesla bunch seem to know exactly what will happen

Uncle Warren and BYD might have something to say about that Tesla 2025 EV “any other manufacturer” production milestone.

I hope your spot on however, FWIW.

Correction:

“Tesla will produce more EV’s than most of the other car manufacturer in 2025.”

Previous announcements have said 3 million. I think the authors was saying the new plant in China and the new plant in North America will be producing 1 million cars/yr combined. But VW will have many more plants making EVs.

VAG intends to have 16 electric-car production plants globally by 2022, which will require a 34 billion euro ($40 billion) investment.

Let the spending war begin. Next one to announce massive investments to EV factories?

It would be really nice if the picture slideshows could either be removed and replaced with a normal gallery, or fixed so the Next, Previous and Exit buttons work. I’ve seen other people complain about this. Apologies for the off topic comment.

It is very easy to find out whether it is true or not since VW claims it will have 16 production sites for electric cars in operation by the end of 2022. Just follow the news when new production site is up and running.

If true then all other manufacturers has to sure that VW does not take a lead which is impossible to catch later on. Stakes are extremely high and some manufacturers won’t survive because of the capital investments needed.

Biggest news I found out today is that VW ID Neo starting price will be below 25 000 € in Europe. Leaf, model 3 and Co have serious competitor starting at the beginning of 2020.

@ jasonb

“Biggest news I found out today is that VW ID Neo starting price will be below 25 000 € in Europe.”

Where did you get that from?

electrive(dot)net

Price difference is huge compared to all low cost EVs today. The charger box costs 300 € (basic version + Installation costs) which is also very low. It seems VW is pretty serious about EVs.

This might refer to the version where you rent the battery.

220 miles version

220 miles version.

Thanks for that

“Those two vehicles will be followed by the I.D. Vission”
You probably mean “I.D. Vizzion” (-: … FWIW, I dislike VW’s naming scheme on this series.

Interesting reading on the subject to those who can read German magazines. Google translate gives also pretty accurate translation.

https://edison.handelsblatt.com/erleben/vw-startet-countdown-zur-grossen-elektro-offensive/23093964.html?ticket=ST-1413926-zTJ266YGXEgkfYf5xqWd-ap2

Thanks

Production of 1.5 million EV’s China in 2025 (and 3 million is the global total).