Following the departure of Herbert Diess, it is be interesting to see whether the Volkswagen Group's new leadership will follow the EV strategy he outlined or make changes.
The first signs point to the latter variant, as a November 2022 report from Germany claimed VW put the Project Trinity flagship EV—and the new plant planned to be built in Wolfsburg for it and other SSP-based models by 2026—under review.
Manager Magazin suggested that Volkswagen might not open the Project Trinity factory until 2030, a huge delay if the rumor turns out to be true. According to the latest reports, the company will make a decision on whether it needs a new plant for Project Trinity at all in February 2023.
Now, we get another clue that Volkswagen may be slowing down the pace of its EV transformation—or at least employ more cost-effective methods to get there—in the form of a new announcement regarding an evolution of the MEB platform. In a new announcement posted on its media website, Volkswagen revealed that MEB will evolve into MEB+, an improved iteration that will take the EV-only architecture to the next level.
While the MEB+ name suggests an evolution, the automaker actually describes it as "the next generation of the MEB." VW says it will invest substantially in the further development of the e-platform, which will result in improved charging and storage technology, as well as enhanced digital infrastructure and "significant leaps" in automated driving functions.
Volkswagen Group MEB+ EV platform specs
More specifically, the MEB+ will use Volkswagen's new generation of batteries—the so-called unit cell or prismatic unified cell—enabling driving ranges of up to 700 kilometers (435 miles). MEB+ will also significantly improve charging times, with VW saying speeds of 175-200 kW will be possible in the future. In comparison, the fastest charging supported by MEB at the moment is 135 kW.
The implementation of MEB+ will also result in a significantly expanded model lineup, with Volkswagen pledging to launch 10 new EVs under its core brand by 2026, including an entry-level model for around €25,000 ($26,230). Speaking of new models, the automaker said new additions are being planned in the performance and premium segments as well. It did not reveal when the first MEB+ model will be launched, though.
Interestingly, VW makes no mention of the upcoming SSP (Scalable Systems Platform), which was originally supposed to debut in 2026. Billed as a replacement for MEB, it now looks like the SSP platform will donate some of its features to the MEB+ platform, such as the new-generation batteries.
Given its projected charging speeds, MEB+ will likely carry over the MEB's 400-volt architecture, with an 800-volt system reportedly arriving in 2028 at the earliest as part of the more advanced SSP platform.
Launched at the end of 2019 on the Volkswagen ID.3, the MEB platform underpins more than 670,000 vehicles delivered across the Group, including more than 500,000 EVs from the VW brand alone. Currently, a dozen vehicle models from the Audi, Cupra, Skoda, Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands are being built on the electric architecture.