Spotlight on Volkswagen’s MEB platform strategy
MEB at heart of VW Group's EV strategy
The MEB platform will be at the heart of VW Group's e-mobility new product strategy over the next decade. It kicks off in 2019. Volkswagen will show its ID.3, the public debut of the VW brand's first MEB architecture EV.
Volkswagen Group is planning to launch almost 70 new electric models in the next ten years – up from the 50 previously planned. As a result, the projected number of vehicles to be built on the group's electric platforms in the next decade will increase from 15m to 22m.
It says expanding e-mobility is an important building block on the road to a CO2-neutral balance. Volkswagen maintains it has signed off a comprehensive decarbonisation program aimed at achieving a fully CO2-neutral balance in all areas from fleet to production to administration by 2050 and says it is fully committed to the Paris climate targets.
All electric ID models are based on the Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) system by Volkswagen. VW Group says design and interior space can be flexibly designed with the MEB, from compact cars to SUVs and buses. At the same time, the MEB creates the basis for making the electric car accessible to as many people as possible. By 2028, up to 15m electric cars worldwide are to be based on the MEB, guaranteeing considerable economies of scale. Ultimately, Volkswagen wants to set a new industry standard with the new vehicle architecture.
Basis for more than 10m vehicles
The top-of-the-range vehicles based on the globally deployed modular electric drive matrix (MEB) will be large models with up to seven seats. A zero-emission sport utility vehicle in the style of the ID. CROZZ concept car will be launched in 2020, i.e. the same year as the compact ID.3. The ID. BUZZ concept car, meanwhile, is paving the way for a zero-emission van from Volkswagen, the design of which is firmly based on the “Bulli” and for which a series production version will be launched in 2022. The avant-garde ID. VIZZION provides a glimpse into the future of sedans. A series production version of the sedan is expected to be available in 2022.
By 2028, up to 15 million electric cars worldwide are to be based on the MEB, guaranteeing considerable economies of scale.
The MEB will not only be the technical matrix for all Volkswagen ID. family models but also for many electric cars of four other group brands: Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. As such, the MEB will be used across a total of five brands and in three regions of the world, will cover the entire spectrum from compact car to Bulli and will form the technological backbone of more than 10m VW Group vehicles in the first wave alone.
The MEB models will be able to be configured with various different battery capacities for ranges of more than 550km (WLTP). In order to ensure this, the Volkswagen Group Components division has developed a new battery system which is less complex but considerably more efficient than current solutions. The MEB system has several advantages compared to the batteries used to date, including the fact that it is scalable, so can be comparatively easily integrated into the ID, it is claimed, for models with different power outputs. For example, if the owner of an ID. were to place less importance on their vehicle being able to achieve a particularly long range, perhaps because they mainly travel in and around the city and therefore only cover short distances, a battery with a smaller energy content would be sufficient.
This would make the vehicle less expensive. However, anyone who regularly travels long distances would opt for a larger battery. This provides owners with a greater sense of flexibility. The new battery system provides these flexible options, VW says.
Other advantages include weight optimisation (on account of the aluminium housing), the adaptability of different battery cell types, and an integrated cooling system. The battery can therefore be used to drive one axles or both axles. As the set-up of the cell modules is arranged in a similar way to a bar of chocolate, the battery is also easy to install. Volkswagen has also managed to increase the charging capacity to 125kW − which it says will considerably speed up the charging process and hence shorten charging stops.
Dr Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG, said: "Volkswagen is taking on responsibility with regard to the key trends of the future – particularly in connection with climate protection. The targets of the Paris Agreement are our yardstick. We will be systematically aligning production and other stages in the value chain to CO2 neutrality in the coming years. That is how we will be making our contribution towards limiting global warming. Volkswagen is seeking to provide individual mobility forms of people for years to come – individual mobility that is safer, cleaner and fully connected. In order to shoulder the investments needed for the electric offensive we must make further improvements in efficiency and performance in all areas."
VW says that thanks to the MEB, the ID. chassis can cover an exceptionally wide range of vehicles, from the compact class and SUVs to large cars and vans.
The Volkswagen Group has 'set milestones in all areas to be achieved in the coming years on the road to complete decarbonisation by 2050'.
The measures follow three principles:
• effective and sustainable CO2 reduction;
• a switch to renewable energy sources for power supply;
• compensate for remaining emissions that cannot be avoided.
VW says that in order to improve the CO2 balance of vehicles throughout their lifecycle, for example, Volkswagen has already made a start on the supply chain. A 'detailed roadmap is currently being drawn up' and VW says there is particularly significant potential for steel and aluminium supplies.
The 2025 target is to reduce the CO2 footprint of the vehicle fleet by 30% across the lifecycle compared to 2015. Volkswagen is therefore electrifying the vehicle portfolio, with investment in this area alone amounting to more than EUR€30bn by 2023. The share of electric vehicles in the group fleet is to rise to at least 40% by 2030.
The first of the new-generation electric vehicles go into production this year: the Audi e-tron will be followed by the Porsche Taycan. Reservations for each of these models already total 20,000 units. And electric vehicles will be brought into the mainstream with the ramp up of the Volkswagen ID. Other models in this first wave will be the ID Crozz, the SEAT el-born, the Skoda Vision E, the ID Buzz and the ID Vizzion.
The 2025 target is to reduce the CO2 footprint of the vehicle fleet by 30% across the lifecycle compared to 2015.
In order to support the electric offensive, LG Chem, SKI, CATL and Samsung were selected as strategic battery cell suppliers. In view of the constantly increasing demand, Volkswagen is also taking a close look at possible participation in battery cell manufacturing facilities in Europe. Looking further ahead, solid-state batteries also have great potential, the company notes. The goal is to enable an industrial level of production with this technology together with partner QuantumScape.
At the same time, CO2 emissions at all manufacturing plants are to be cut 50% by 2025 compared with 2010. The conversion of the power station in Wolfsburg from coal to gas will reduce CO2 emissions by 1.5m tonnes annually from 2023 onwards. Audi's production activities at the Brussels site, for example, are already completely CO2-neutral. The Zwickau plant will not only be the lead factory for the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB); the ID built there will be delivered to customers with a CO2-neutral balance.
The MEB lies at the heart of Volkswagen's electric offensive. The cost of e-mobility can be significantly lowered through partnerships to enable the widest possible spread of the MEB and the associated economies of scale. That makes individual mobility affordable and usable for the mainstream in the future as well. One example of such a partnership is the planned cooperation with Aachen-based e.GO Mobile AG announced at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show.
To boost e-mobility further, VW will be installing 400 fast-charging stations along Europe's major roads and highways by 2020 in collaboration with industry partners in IONITY. Some 100 of these will be located in Germany. That means there will be a station every 120km. Elli (Electric Life), Volkswagen's new subsidiary, will also offer wallboxes for charging at home, using green power – initially in Germany. In addition, there will be 3,500 charging points on employee car parks at all plants with further charging opportunities at dealerships.