Volkswagen is investing in additional automation at factories that will build the ID.4 electric crossover and the production model that follows the ID Buzz electric-van concept—two models destined for the United States.
In a Wednesday press release, VW said it had ordered 1,400 robots for factories in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Emden, Germany, plus 800 robots from Swiss firm ABB for a factory in Hanover, Germany. All three factories are scheduled to start building electric cars in 2022.
ID.4 production has been allocated to the Chattanooga and Emden factories, although the crossover will initially be build in Zwickau, Germany, alongside the ID.3 hatchback.
The Hanover factory will begin building the ID Buzz in 2022, according to VW. First shown in concept form at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, the ID Buzz is a small electric van with styling inspired by the iconic VW Microbus.
“Several billion euros are to be invested in these plants,” VW said. The automaker said it plans to spend 33 billion euros ($38.6 billion at current exchange rates) by 2024 “with a view to becoming the world market leader in e-mobility.”
VW has said it will build a second electric model in the U.S., but still hasn’t stated if that model is the ID Buzz, or whether it’s merely the ID.5 “coupe” version of the ID.4.
The automaker is planning to do more than just assembly at Chattanooga. In August, it said some engineering work will be done there as well—including durability testing of battery packs. VW had already announced an $800 million expansion of production facilities in November 2019 for electric cars.
It aims to sell 500,000 ID.4 crossovers per year by 2025. The Chattanooga plant expansion in the U.S. will be a significant part of that—but the ID.4 will also continue to be produced at several locations globally throughout its production run.
Tesla boasted about its level of automation for Model 3 initially, but then confessed that too much automation was an issue in Model 3 ramp-up.
Fortunately, VW has experience to draw upon from its many factories around the globe.