After a big reveal in Frankfurt back in September, the electric Volkswagen ID.3 has entered production in Zwickau, Germany this week. The MEB platform-based hatch built there will be launched in many markets around the world with the notable exception of North America.
Automotive Logistics reports that production in the Zwickau plant is currently only a fraction of what it will be once other product lines are moved elsewhere. As of right now, the Golf Wagon (excuse me, sportwagen) is being built at the plant as well but when the new generation starts production soon, that line will be moved to turn the plant into VW’s first all-EV production facility.
As the beginning of ID.3 production marks a new era for VW as it attempts to put the turmoil of dieselgate behind them, the automaker pulled out all the stops for the event. There was a ceremony. There was German chancellor Angela Merkel. There was the new-old logo. It was a pretty big deal, but then again, you’d want to make some noise if you spent €1.2 billion on a new production line, right?
One big claim that Volkswagen is making about the new production line for the ID.3 is that production will be carbon-neutral. Volkswagen claims that offset programs in places like Borneo will allow the automaker to deliver electric cars with a carbon footprint of zero. I’m not sure how we’ll be able to test this claim, but it certainly does sound impressive.
Despite the grandiosity of that claim, there are some real-deal environmental efforts going on behind the scenes to keep ID.3 production less wasteful than it otherwise would be. In their article on the start of production, Automotive Logistics explains that the Zwickau location allows Volkswagen to cut down on costs and environmental impact because the plant is relatively close to battery production sites in Germany, Poland, and Sweden.
The Zwickau plant is only the beginning of Volkswagen’s electric vehicle production plans. The automaker is expecting to introduce more models based on the MEB platform in the near future, like the ID.4 crossover for the American market, a reborn Microbus, and a larger wagon-like car that will be previewed in Los Angeles later this month with the ID.Space Vizzion concept. These cars won’t all be built at Zwickau; there are already plans in the works for VW EVs to be built in other plants in Germany, in China, and at the Chattanooga, TN production complex where the Passat and Atlas are currently made.
We don’t know which cars will be built in which of these other plants, but I’m hoping the Microbus successor makes it to Chattanooga. If it doesn’t, the good ol’ Chicken Tax will keep the planned commercial version of the ID.Buzz, as VW has called it so far, at bay. Here’s to hoping.