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Volkswagen has officially started series production of its ID.5 and ID.5 GTX crossovers at its recently improved Zwickau plant.
VW says its longstanding Zwickau plant, located around 230 km southeast of its Wolfsburg headquarters, is the first large-scale facility of any volume manufacturer to switch over all of its production from ICE vehicles to EVs.
Six models based on the modular electric drive matrix (MEB) platform from the VW, Audi, and CUPRA brands will be built at the plant. VW’s sites in Emden and Hanover, as well as its site in Chattanooga, will start to manufacture further MEB-based vehicles including the ID.4 hatchback and ID. Buzz campervan.
All told, VW aims to produce 1.2 million MEB-based electric vehicles across its sites in Europe, the US, and China this year.
“Volkswagen will continue to increase the pace of e-mobility in 2022 with its ACCELERATE strategy and the expansion of the model portfolio. The Zwickau production plant has paved the way for the Group to do this with six ramp-ups from three brands in just 26 months. The knowledge and experience gained will help us to continue to electrify our production network quickly and efficiently,” says Dr. Christian Vollmer, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Brand responsible for Production.
Since 2018, VW has spent around €1.2 billion on converting the Zwickau plant from ICE Vehicle production into “a digital, flexible, highly efficient showcase factory for the manufacture of electric vehicles.”
“After Gläserne Manufaktur Dresden, we have now converted a second Volkswagen factory in Saxony to dedicated electric vehicle production. The start of production of the ID.5 and ID.5 GTX marks the successful transformation of the Zwickau plant on the product side,” says Dr. Stefan Loth, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen Saxony.
“Our focus now – depending on how the semiconductor situation pans out – will be on achieving full capacity. This year we aim to exceed the 180,000 vehicles Volkswagen Saxony built in 2021.”
VW says that close to 40% of the investment volume went into the enhancement and expansion of the body shop alone, while nine-tenths of body shop work has been automated with the number of robots rising from 1,200 to 1,625.
Meanwhile, the number of automated tasks on the assembly line has doubled to 28% including the most monotonous or strenuous tasks, such as working with one’s hands above one’s shoulders or overhead work.
The press shop, where all shell body parts for the electric models, has been brought into the plant – saving some 9,000 truck trips a year, apparently.
VW claims that the investment and automation will preserve jobs. By the company’s reckoning, some 9,000 permanent staff received training in the new technologies while 3,000 production workers have completed the site’s e-mobility training to prepare them for the new requirements.
“Switching over to electric vehicle production was exactly the right decision for the Zwickau plant,” says Jens Rothe, Chairman of the General Works Council at Volkswagen Saxony.
“Demand for our models is booming, and our team’s jobs will be safe for years to come. We are a trailblazer of change and have repaid the Group’s trust in us. This is first and foremost a fantastic achievement by our workforce.”