Volkswagen Group gave an update on the progress of its modular platform for non-premium cars on Monday. MEB stands for the German translation of “Modular Electric Toolkit.”
Volkswagen said by the end of 2022, there will be as many as 27 models available, spread across four brands right from compact cars to a modern iteration of the iconic VW Microbus. The four brands selling the EVs would likely be Volkswagen, Skoda, SEAT, and Audi. These new EVs would be different from VAG’s premium EV offerings like the C-BEV that debuted in the Audi e-Tron, the J1 underpinning the Porsche Taycan, and a new PPE platform currently being developed by Audi and Porsche jointly. The first PPE-based EV will launch in 2021.
Including all the above platforms, plus a potential SPE platform for electric performance cars, VW Group intends to have as many as 80 all-electric cars in its portfolio by 2025. The cost of development of these platforms is reportedly turning out to be more expensive than originally calculated. VAG has earmarked $7 billion towards the development of electric cars. “The burden for our company, such as the cost of bringing to market electric cars, will be higher than expected,” Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said. “This is particularly so since some of our competitors have been making more progress.”
The German automaker is putting most of its money behind the MEB platform as the cars based on it will be the firm’s cash cows, selling in higher volumes due to their affordability. MEB is touted to be a platform instrumental in converting the image of electric vehicles from niche products to mainstream offerings that are a feasible alternative to conventional cars. In fact, VAG is projecting the change the new MEB-based EVs will bring to be as monumental as the transition from the Beetle to the Golf.
So what exactly does the MEB platform bring to the table? Christian Senger, VW Group’s head of electric cars, stated: “The cars hold the road really well thanks to the flat battery in the floor pan and the space inside is much more generous—we are making substantial headway with the sense of spaciousness.” Senger also said that the MEB-based cars will have fast-charging capabilities, hitting percent charge in 30 minutes. VAG is tight-lipped about the driving range of the new EVs which is critical to their mass acceptance but hinted at the minimum figure to be around 400km.
The first car with MEB underpinnings will be a production version of the Volkswagen I.D. hatchback concept that debuted in 2016. It is already under testing as a prototype and will be built at the firm’s Zwickau, Germany facility by the end of 2019. The electric hatchback will be followed by the I.D. Crozz crossover and I.D. Buzz van, concepts of which were unveiled in 2017. The Buzz is a design preview of the forthcoming Microbus. Both the crossover and the van are expected to launch after 2020.