Volkswagen Says its Future is All-Electric
Originally published on February 8, 2019.
With 27 different electrified models planned by 2022 and more than 10 million all-electric cars over its lifespan—Volkswagen Group has big dreams for its new “MEB” platform.
Translated, MEB means “Modular Electric-drive Toolkit,” and it’s meant to be the basic building block upon which all of Volkswagen’s upcoming electric cars will be built, much like the “Modular Transverse Toolkit” (MQB) platform has been the basis for dozens of cars from the VW Golf and Passat to the Audi A3 and Q3.
The MQB platform is also what Volkswagen’s only modern electric car, the e-Golf, is built on. But like so many electric cars built on platforms originally meant for internal combustion engines, there are some limitations.
“The e-Golf being built around the MQB platform means putting modules under seats, it’s a challenge to package and difficult to manufacture,” said Matthew Renna, vice-president of e-Mobility for Volkswagen Group North America, at a Volkswagen Chicago Auto Show presentation.
The e-Golf only gets about 125 miles of range and only makes about 134 horsepower. Worse yet, those small figures come at a big price tag. The e-Golf starts at more than $31,000.
But those limitations are eliminated once a car is designed to be electric from the ground-up. And the MEB platform quite literally embodies that—the large “chocolate bar” shaped battery sits underneath the floor of the passenger cabin and is connected to a standard approximately 201 horsepower electric motor in the rear. An option for a second motor in the front, enabling all-wheel drive capabilities, will also be available.
The layout maximizes both passenger space and battery size. Volkswagen says driving ranges will vary from 200 miles up to more than 340 miles on a single charge.
“The future for us is the dedicated electric vehicle platform,” Renna said. “It’s about the range—that’s what brings EVs to the masses.”
Although final prices have not yet been released, a November 2018 report by Reuters said VW wants to sell entry-level EVs at less than $23,000 in Europe. Such a crowd-pleasing price tag is likely necessary for VW to reach its goal of selling its electric cars in all 50 U.S. states.
“I can’t give a minute-by-minute, state-by-state rollout plan, but we want to go national as quickly as possible,” Renna said.
The company has been teasing the new models coming on the MEB platform for the last few years. Concepts have been revealed for cars of many body styles, like the compact hatchback I.D. Neo, the crossover I.D. Crozz, and the I.D. Buzz, which is a styling callback to the classic Volkswagen Bus.
A timeline displayed at the Chicago Auto Show presentation slated the I.D. Neo for 2020 and the I.D. Crozz for 2021.
“The I.D. models will not be combustion engine versions that have been converted, they will be designed to be 100 percent, thoroughbred electric vehicles,” said Christian Senger, head of Volkswagen E-Mobility in a press release. “And they will be engineered to be online, upgradeable- and update-compatible. We’re making optimal use of the possibilities this technology brings.”
Some of these cars will be built in America, including the I.D. Crozz and I.D. Buzz. VW is retooling its Chattanooga, Tenn., assembly plant to produce those cars starting in 2022.
“The future for us is the dedicated EV platform,” Renna said. “Our belief is that the future is electric.”
Current Automotive will be stocking these new Volkswagen EVs as soon as they hit the pre-owned market.