Volkswagen targeting 20-30% automation at new electric vehicle plant

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) is looking at automating 20-30% of production at its upcoming Trinity plant near its Wolfsburg headquarters, the plant’s chief production officer said on Tuesday.

“Assembly is still 90% manual work,” Sebastian Schmickartz said at a suppliers summit in Wolfsburg. “This is what we want to change with the new factory. We are looking at 20-30% automation.”

The Trinity plant, where the German carmaker will build a new flagship electric sedan, is due to begin pre-series production in 2025, with the official start of production in 2026.

The key to automating more of its assembly line will be moving to a module-based strategy, Schmickartz said, condensing 50 parts into one through techniques like die casting to produce front-end, back-end and roof modules.

Volkswagen brand production chief Christian Vollmer told Reuters earlier this year the carmaker hoped this production strategy would help boost its productivity and keep its upper hand in the European market.

The casting technique was popularised by Tesla as an alternative to the more labour-intensive method of assembling multiple stamped metal panels with crumple zones to absorb energy during a crash.