Zwickau: a factory full of energy
Zwickau: a factory full of energy
Converting a factory from 100% combustion engines to 100% electric mobility? With 14 new buildings and hall conversions, while operations are still running and employees are being trained at the same time? And all of that in just two years? Reinhard de Vries explains how it was possible.
The ID.3 (near-production-ready prototype) marks the dawn of a new era. Not just because it has created a new vehicle platform all for itself, but because it is a car that gives rise to new developments and a shift in the paradigm. Reinhard de Vries, the Managing Director of Technology and Logistics at Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, explains the challenges and special moments on the journey towards electric mobility.
Mr de Vries, the ID.3 has just started rolling off the production line in Zwickau. What were the most emotional moments for you over the past few months?
It is really remarkable how quickly we are transforming our Zwickau factory. From 100% combustion engines to 100% electricity within two years – all that while continuing to produce the Golf and Golf Estate. This is very challenging for all of us, but so far the entire team and everyone involved has handled things very professionally. No stone has been left unturned. We are currently working on 14 new buildings and hall extensions. At the same time, the latest automation technology and systems are being set up within the production areas. In addition to the technical change, we have also trained the entire workforce at the same time and learned about the importance and opportunities of electric mobility. After all, only an informed and convinced team will achieve its goals.
In detail: which technology do you find most fascinating in the new ID.3?
The ID.3 is a symbol for New Volkswagen when it comes to technology. The vehicle impresses with its modern, progressive design, combined with the purely electric drive and new IT architecture – and all that on a brand new MEB platform. So, for me, the most exciting thing is the vehicle’s overall appearance. The ID.3 attracts attention wherever it goes.
Zwickau will become the flagship for e-mobility in Europe with the ID.3Reinhard de VriesManaging Director of Technology and Logistics at Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH
What was the biggest challenge you faced over the entire course of the project?
When you are completing such an extensive conversion to the factory, you need a great deal of skills in start-up processes. In Zwickau, six models from three brands will be rolling off the production line by 2021. Until then, we will have a new production launch every three to six months, along with various start-up stages for new model variants in between. The ID.3 has already started up; the ID.4 is currently in the pre-production stage; the El Born by Seat is already in production in small batch sizes and the first Audi is not far behind it. We can’t do much more. This is a challenge for the site’s entire organisation and the offices involved at the headquarters.
What will you take away from this project personally?
Life is exciting when you dare to try something new. It’s incredibly important to consolidate all your powers and take a new approach to thinking. I have also seen here that the key to corporate success lies in inspiring people. Anything is possible if every individual employee is informed, motivated and committed to the same goals! I am firmly of the belief that everything will pay off for the site and, in particular, for the staff.