In Germany, of all places.
It's been almost a year since Volkswagen announced the existence and name of its top-secret new high-tech flagship EV, Project Trinity. This is an all-new platform with at least Level 2 autonomy capability and will be Level 4 ready once legislators give the go-ahead. The first vehicle to utilize this setup, a sedan, is due in 2026. The architecture will also utilize a "radically new production approach."
Speaking of production, a new report from Reuters indicates the German automaker intends to build a new factory instead of retrofitting an existing one. The plan is to build this new state-of-the-art factory in Germany, close to VW headquarters in Wolfsburg. Less than three hours away from Tesla's new Berlin Gigafactory that's currently under construction.
VW didn't give an estimate as to how much the new factory will cost, but one of its main goals is a 10-hour production time for each new Trinity vehicle. That's about the same time it takes to build a Tesla Model 3, which is no coincidence. VW aims to become the world's biggest EV producer by 2025 so production speed and efficiency are a must. The new plant will have a number of radical changes compared to existing facilities, such as the Wolfsburg plant. Building EVs is a whole new ball game and VW wants the freedom to implement new production techniques.
"That's why we're planning greenfield construction: efficient and without limitations by existing structures," Volkswagen brand CEO Ralf Brandstaetter said.
"That way we are gaining time and space to gradually modernize the main factory in a far-reaching way and raise production there, too, to a new level."
But there's another key reason why VW wants to build an all-new production plant: Wolfsburg's apparent inability to benchmark Tesla production methods. VW Group CEO Herbert Diess, a personal friend of Elon Musk and longtime Tesla admirer, has been battling the powerful workers' union in his efforts to streamline Wolfsburg production. Doing so requires working faster, more efficiently, and most controversially, laying off employees. It's a longtime fact EVs require fewer parts and, therefore, fewer human beings stationed on the assembly line. This new factory will enable Diess and crew to start from scratch.