Once a favorite of hippies and housewives, Beetle mania has apparently run its course as Volkswagen is swatting away the Bug while applying its legendary engineering prowess towards powering forward into the EV era. The strategy includes an intensive offering of U.S.-based training programs to prepare its engineering, assembly and repair workforces for ongoing and far-reaching high-tech innovations.
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“We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen,” says VW Chairman Dr. Herbert Diess. “The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture. That is when we will be launching an entirely new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles to the market.” The goal is to be selling a million VW EVs per year by 2025.
An alliance with Ford pertaining to future vehicle development initiatives is also being explored among the two firms.
Production of the iconic Bug is set to cease in July with the 2019 Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL models. “As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the U.S. and ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace it,” according to Hinrich J. Woebcken, the outgoing Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO who is transitioning into a senior advisor role.
MEB refers to “Modulare E-Antriebs-Baukasten.” Translated from German into “modular electric-drive toolkit,” it will form the powertrain basis of the upcoming I.D. CROZZ SUV and I.D. BUZZ van, an upgraded version of the equally iconic VW Microbus.
“We have developed a platform designed specifically for electric cars,” says E-Mobility chief Christian Senger. “The I.D. models will not be combustion engine versions that have been converted; they will be designed to be 100 percent, thoroughbred electric vehicles. And they will be engineered to be online, upgradeable- and update-compatible. We’re making optimal use of the possibilities this technology brings.”
Up to 27 worldwide MEB models are expected to hit the streets by 2022.
“Training has been developed to support the ID line,” Technical Training Manager Dan Planz tells Aftermarket Business World, “and we will eventually include battery repair training in the curriculum. Volkswagen has offered electric vehicle repair training to our technicians for some time in order to service the Volkswagen e-Golf.”