VW’s largest plant to get EV makeover, setting up showdown with Tesla’s Giga Berlin

Credit: Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg, Germany production facility is being upgraded to make room for electric vehicle production, setting up a showdown with Giga Berlin in an epic battle of massive EV production facilities in Germany.

An internal video conference with various VW team members and CEO Herbert Diess revealed the German automotive powerhouse would being planning for its largest facility to begin producing electric vehicles in a substantial push to create EVs under the Volkswagen name. The Wolfsburg facility is the world’s largest automotive factory. Volkswagen creates 800,000 vehicles a year at the facility, with the popular Golf and Tiguan models being the main products at the plant.

Volkswagen, however, has new plans for Wolfsburg, and it requires an overhaul of the existing facility to make way for EV powertrains to be manufactured. Diess said during a video conference on Monday that Wolfsburg will be fitted with the latest EV technology and software operations, according to people who were tuned in that work for Volkswagen. These sources wished to remain anonymous as the meeting wasn’t open to the public, Bloomberg initially reported.

Diess’ plans to upgrade Wolfsburg aren’t a guessing game by any means. Volkswagen is planning to draw inspiration from Tesla, the leader in electric vehicle manufacturing and technology, in an attempt to recreate the efficient production processes that the California-based company has used to ramp its production efforts to 500,000 cars a year. Tesla is able to build an EV in around 10 hours, less than half the amount of time that it takes Volkswagen to build one of its cars.

The comparison with Tesla is nothing new for Volkswagen. The company has used Tesla as a guideline to measure its success and efforts in its push toward electrification numerous times. In the past, Volkswagen has mentioned Tesla’s lead in software, and the company’s domination in the sector has compelled Diess to establish a strong relationship with CEO Elon Musk. The two have often traded compliments with one another and have even given one another test drives in upcoming models.

But, for now, the two companies remain competitors in the sector, and Volkswagen’s large-scale efforts are not being taken lightly. The upgrades to the Wolfsburg facility set up a major showdown with Tesla’s Giga Berlin factory, which is set to begin producing vehicles next Summer. Giga Berlin is set to be a state-of-the-art facility that will introduce new technologies and manufacturing techniques for Tesla. Set up to be a marvel of vehicle technology and engineering, Musk plans to use new-age manufacturing techniques, like casting machines and a battery production line to increase annual output to keep up with increasing demand.

Europe, being a significant market for EVs due to their overwhelming popularity and alignment with upcoming climate change targets, could be the path to success for either company. While Tesla is already widely regarded as the leader in EV manufacturing, Volkswagen could be considered the #2 company simply because of its commitment to transitioning away from petrol-powered engines.

With Diess set to remain at Volkswagen’s helm until at least April 2023, he has the board’s support moving forward. The next step is getting the facilities it has in place updated to support EV manufacturing. With several of these plants already building the ID.3 and ID.4, the name of the game is ramping production to massive volumes.

VW’s largest plant to get EV makeover, setting up showdown with Tesla’s Giga Berlin
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