From the “Racing Cardboard” to the ID.3 – CO2-free
Volkswagen is set to build the attractive, affordable e-car for everyone. An e-car for millions, not just for millionaires. To do so, the Volkswagen plant in Zwickau is currently being transformed into the first, largest, highest-performing – and most environmentally friendly – e-factory in Europe.
Already by the end of 2019, the first fully electric ID. models will be rolling off the production line at the Volkswagen plant in Zwickau, starting with the ID.3
. In the final stage, from 2021 onwards, 330,000 all-electric cars will be built per year. The employees here will then be manufacturing six models for three brands: Volkswagen, Audi and Seat. The Group is investing a total of 1.2 billion euros in the ultra-modern site in Saxony.
During the GDR era, this was where the legendary Trabant 1.1, known as the “racing cardboard,” was built. Since the reopening of the Zwickau site in 1990, more than 5.5 million Volkswagen vehicles have left the factory, mainly the Volkswagen Golf, Golf Estate and Passat. The vehicle plant covers an area of over 1.8 million square meters (equivalent to 252 soccer fields), of which 1.4 million square meters have been built on. Until mid-2018, the Passat was produced here, and the Golf and Golf Estate are currently still being manufactured. Production of the ID.3 will begin in late autumn. The Golf Estate will continue to be produced in parallel until mid-2020.
1,500 vehicles to roll off the production line each day
The future fully electric models from Zwickau will be based on efficient, stable and sustainable production. The plant’s maximum capacity is being increased daily from today’s 1,350 to a future 1,500 vehicles. And since the Zwickau plant will also increase the number of models from three to six, employment at the site will remain stable – even though electric vehicles are less complicated to build.
The conversion was started in the summer of 2018 with the modernization of the production lines. Following the plant’s summer shutdown, the first of two assembly lines for ID. production will be given the green light in August. To this end, the body shop, paint shop, assembly and infrastructure have been extensively modernized and renewed. Among other things, the entire conveyor technology had to be modified for electric cars.
The site’s second line will be converted in a similar way by the end of 2020 and will go into operation that same year. A total of 9,000 tons of steel will be newly installed there, 50,000 square meters of hall space will be constructed and 1,625 robots will be set up. 50 partner companies are helping with the conversion. Many of the previous systems will be reused, some of them at other Group sites.
Ingolf Keller, Head of Utilities at the Zwickau site, has a precise overview of modernizations at the plant. What his many colleagues and external partners have been planning for months and will convert within a few years has one goal: to make production in Zwickau largely CO2-free.
“When all the conversion work is finished in 2020, we will aim to have our plant certified by the highly respected ‘German Society for Sustainable Construction,’” Keller explains.
But even now, at the beginning of production of the ID.3
, the Zwickau plant is running almost CO2-neutrally. Keller says: “From now on, the natural gas which we are not yet obtaining from CO2-free sources will be offset by the purchase of certificates.”
The aim is to purchase only CO2-neutral gas in the future. At the moment, however, this is not available on the market in sufficient quantities. If the supply increases in the next few years, the Zwickau plant will be completely CO2-free – even without certificates.