Volkswagen has many plans for the future, but Trinity Project is the most important and ambitious of all: the Germans are making the largest investment in their entire history in order to position themselves as the largest electric car manufacturer in the world. The objective is to catch up with Tesla as soon as possible, but not only in number of units sold, but also in manufacturing time per unit, where Volkswagen shows much better timing than the Austin team.
NEWSFLASH VOLKSWAGEN confirms plans for $2Bn EV FACTORY in Wolfsberg -Factory to develop upcoming 'Trinity Project' EV-VW aims to improve speed & production efficiency, cutting manufacturing time by a third.-'Trinity' to arrive from 2026More Here: https://t.co/ssBZMpA7kE pic.twitter.com/1D8AwJLh2j— Fully Charged Show (@FullyChargedShw) March 7, 2022
Many companies, including Volkswagen, have recognized the higher power of Tesla in certain key areas; one is the manufacturing time of their cars. While a Volkswagen ID.3 takes an average of 30 hours to build (for the entire process), a Tesla Model Y is completed within only 10 hours. The Trinity Project, with more than 2 billion euros in funding, aims at reducing this manufacturing time, trying to catch up with Tesla.
As Christian Vollmer - head of production for Volkswagen - told Reuters in an interview: “Our goal is clear: we want to set the standard with our production. If we can make it to 10 o'clock, we will have achieved something great". On the other hand, the task will be expensive and clearly, it will not be quick. For quite some time Volkswagen has been working on improving processes and productivity in general, at a very reasonable annual rate of 5%. Despite this fact, ICE (internal combustion engine) models currently take between 14 and 18 hours to produce, depending on the model.
After the arrival of Tesla's Gigafactory in Berlin-Grunheide, German legacy manufacturers have intensified their operations in order to try to dominate the market, knowing that having Tesla around may end up moving the balance in favor of the Austin brand. In order to achieve this, Volkswagen plans to directly copy Tesla production model and structure, including the use of large Giga-press units and a more intensive use of robots. According to the information Wolfsburg will not be the plant receiving the Giga-press, but rather the nearby Kassel factory; then in turn it will transfer the parts to the main factory.
The Trinity Project not only contemplates the acceleration of the manufacturing processes, as the objective is also the production of the new SSP platform, the development of autonomous driving technology, and also a model that for the moment is known as Volkswagen "Aero B". With the development process starting from scratch, the goal for Volkswagen is to make this super electric new saloon a benchmark in the world for its capabilities and technology: efficiency pushed to the limits, with large battery capacity and industry-record range.
Legacy vs Urgency: #1: Volkswagen Group & Brand CEOs trying to get top management excited about how the Trinity Project could transform the company in 2026#2: A makeshift production line at Tesla's Fremont factory testing a new process that could be implemented immediately pic.twitter.com/YAREHLxSdx— Troy Teslike (@TroyTeslike) October 5, 2021
All this will be completed with on-board technology capable of dazzling the world, including level 4 assistance systems with nearly-autonomous driving capacity. The final launch of the product is expected to take place in 2026 (a little too far in the future, in my opinion). That year is when Volkswagen will have the machinery and equipment ready in order to eventually recover the lost crown, after the arrival of new players such as Tesla and in fact, many others (Chinese brands included). The Germans know very well that they have the talent, the technology and the capital to carry out the strategy and go ahead with the plans; it only remains to be seen if they are finally able to carry it out successfully, as by all means Tesla with its Model Y, Model 3, Model X and S will surely have new features - and models - to show by that time.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.