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30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, former Eastern Trabant facility to electrify Europe  
Matthias Schmidt | Interim Editor

Published: Fri, 05th October 2018 18:34:18 GMT

VW MEB platform Dresden 2018

"Germany celebrated its annual day of reunification this week, in a somewhat uncomfortable tone due to the political unrest currently taking place on the streets of Eastern Germany - or new Federal States as they are still know, 28 years after reunification - but next year these states will have a new modern day hero making the former West appear behind the times. 

Almost to the day, 30 years after the actual evening on November 9th 1989, when the Berlin Wall came crashing down, having divided a country for almost as many years, Volkswagen will open its retooled all electric halo assembly plant facility in Zwickau, the former production location of the ubiquitous - in former East Germany - Trabant.

Zwickau will be the location for potentially one of the largest and most productive electric car assembly facilities in the world. 

VW plans are to begin production at the end of 2019, with deliveries starting from 2020. 

I recently attended a VW workshop centred on the new all electric MEB (Modular Electric Platform) architecture to be assembled in Zwickau from the end of next year. 

During the visit Christian Senger, Head of model line eMobility at Volkswagen AG told me that the current production of the VWs current electric offering are currently just Kindergarten products compared to what is on the way. 

With the most compact ID vehicle with a wheelbase of 280cm (slightly longer than current Golf VII) and weighing approximately 1.6 tonnes - I was told - effectively replacing VWs e-Golf from 2020, and perhaps in the future the Golf completely. 

VW indicated that the 1,500 assembly run per day planned for all VW ID models and vehicles for other Group members rolling off the Zwickau line will almost exclusively be produced for European markets only. 

Local assembly will serve other markets such as China. 

These numbers should go a huge way in helping VW reach its 2020/21 CO2 goals and help them claim the maximum 7.5g/km (over 3 years) of super credits available to OEMs with vehicles emitting a CO2 output under 50g/km. 

Looking even further forward the vehicles from just this facility will equate to just over 300,000 pure electric vehicles per year just for the European market taking into account annual production shutdown periods. 

At current volumes that would give the VW Group roughly a 10 per cent pure electric mix of Western Europe sales. 

This is without factoring in other VW Group models based on the Porsche/Audi all electric PPE (Premium Platform Electric) platform as well as PHEV models manufactured at other facilities. 

Going on these numbers it perhaps isnt that unreasonable to assume that the 20 per cent zero- and low- emission vehicles - ZLEVs - (electric cars which emit less than 50g CO2/km) 2025 target suggested by the European Parliament this week for the European Union market could potentially be met despite protestations from industry executives. 

With pure electric vehicles currently priced at a relatively high premium over internal combustion engine (ICE) models VW are assuring that the ID range entry price - featuring two wheel drive with a range of 330km WLTP range, over 550km range also available - will reach parity with a Golf diesel. Of course for ICEs to meet stricter emissions regulations they will be fitted with more costly technology also pushing their price continuously upwards. 

Senger went on to say consumers shouldnt expect future e-mobility to necessarily be cheap mobility suggesting consumers need to think about the price of mobility differently, with ICE models rising and electric models falling. 

But perhaps PSA CEO and current president of the European industry mouthpiece ACEA, Carlos Tavares, summed it up most elegantly at this weeks Paris Motor Show telling journalists, "If the EU wants to lower CO2 emissions, fine. But electric vehicles are like organic food, they are more expensive." 

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