Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory set to be extensively digitised for mass electric car production

08 March 2020

The Volkswagen brand expects to be building up to one and a half million electric cars a year by 2025. In order to enable this level of mass production, its Zwickau factory will be converted to e-mobility and extensively digitised by the end of 2020.

The electric car is based on the MEB platform (Modular Electric-Drive Matrix), comprising a battery and two axles, one or both of which are electrically driven, depending on the design. The production plants for the MEB-platform models are based on the 6th generation of the VASS (Volkswagen Audi Seat Skoda) standard. The VASS standard includes automation solutions for hardware, software and visualization, as well as material for application training and upskilling. “With the VASS standard we offer a building block system for stable production and facilitate mass production of different models on the same line. At the same time, we are creating a consistent basis for further digitalization of the production processes,” explained Thomas Zembok, Volkswagen AG.

The first of two lines for body shop and final assembly has already been implemented and series production has started. The second line is currently being realised and is scheduled to go into operation before the end of 2020. 

Siemens technology is being used for both lines and includes the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal, Simatic controllers, HMI panels and industrial PCs, and this is said to be one of the key drivers for the increase of automation in the final assembly from 17% to 28% and in the body shop from 85% to 89%. Seamless integration into further steps in the value chain is also happening in the logistics field with the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs), for example. 

ix models based on MEB platform for three group brands are scheduled to be built in Zwickau from 2021. The first of this new generation of electric cars rolling off the production line since November is the ID.3. 

Commenting on the project, Bernd Mangler, senior vice president of Automotive Solutions at Siemens Digital Industries, said: “The great advantage of the VASS standard is that Volkswagen can also scale it according to the respective production plan in its other plants. The new VASS standard is an important step for Volkswagen’s further digitalisation of production. It offers a number of benefits, such as the ability to uniformly control the operating parameters of production machines, as well as the seamless communication between machines, with the ultimate goal to increase the productivity and efficiency in production.”

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