Volkswagen brand’s production boss is bullish that a key forthcoming EV will be a game changer for the company’s home base.
“Trinity will turn Wolfsburg into a showcase for cutting-edge technology,” Christian Vollmer told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.
VW brand’s Trinity electric flagship sedan will be built in the Warmenau district, not far from the company’s main plant in Wolfsburg.
VW will invest about 2 billion euros ($2.18 billion) in the plant, where it expects to cut its production time to 10 hours per vehicle, down from about 30 hours now needed to produce the ID3 battery-electric compact hatchback.
“The key to further increasing productivity will be fewer components, more automation, highly efficient production lines, innovative logistics concepts and fewer model variants,” he said.
VW Group, which also includes the Audi, Skoda, Seat, Cupra and Porsche brands, will drop 60 percent of its combustion-powered models by the end of the decade and sell fewer cars overall to concentrate on producing more profitable premium vehicles, finance chief Arno Antlitz told the Financial Times this week.
The Trinity sedan will be based on VW Group’s forthcoming SSP platform, which the companys says will enable Level 4 autonomy, meaning the car will be able to drive itself.
The automaker is also currently looking into the use of large modules made of die-cast aluminum during the assembly process.
“Instead of using many individual parts, we want to use pre-assembled modules that are available in as few variants as possible, preferably just one,” Vollmer said. “That’s why we have to think about production right from the start of the product development process, not only in the development phase, but also in the design phase.”
To do this, Tesla uses a so-called Giga Press from Italian supplier Idra, which is also in talks with VW and Volvo.
Volvo plans to have its Torslanda plant, near Gothenburg, ready for megacasting by 2025, which coincides with the production start for the first full-electric car at the plant. Volvo declined to say whether it will use a Giga Press from Idra.
Most cost-effective option
Vollmer explained the decision to build a completely new plant was preceded by a comprehensive analysis of different site options.
“Of course, we also intensively examined the possibility of Trinity production within the Wolfsburg plant,” he said. “The main argument in favor of building a new plant in Warmenau is that it would be more cost-effective in the midterm.”
In addition, Vollmer said the greenfield decision would ensure ongoing series production and the new ramp-ups of models such as the Tiguan, Tayron and the product upgrade of the Golf scheduled for the next few years would not be interrupted at the existing plant.
Volvo production boss Javier Varela said the biggest challenge his team faces will be transitioning to megacasting at the same time that traditional production procedures are underway at Torslanda.
Vollmer said VW is already thinking of ways to use what it learns from the Trinity plant throughout its vast production network.
“Our aim is to install a second and possibly a third production segment at the main plant, but no decision has been made on that yet,” he said. “The Trinity plant will be the blueprint for this.”
Vollmer expects the new plant to take two years to build, with construction to start in the first half of 2023.
In addition to an independent assembly shop, the plant will have a complete body shop, along with a modern, low-solvent paint shop.
“The entire factory will be CO2-neutral,” Vollmer added.