Volkswagen Group has unveiled the ‘modular electric drive matrix’ – an investment said to be worth €6 billion and that will create the platforms for an eventual 10 million electric vehicles.
The MEB, as the platform is commonly known, spearheads the VW Group’s new ‘Electric for All’ campaign that aims to produce ‘attractive models at affordable prices’ across all the group’s mainstream car brands – Audi, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen – paving the way for widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by consumers.
VW adds that the MEB has from the start been designed solely as an electric vehicle platform, and not one for combustion engines that has been modified to accept an electric drivetrain.
The centrepiece of the MEB is the rolling chassis, without the body shell or interior, that will be used on future electric vehicles. Typical benefits include the ability to install larger battery packs, which will increase the range of the electric cars, and to mount the battery packs flat in the floorpan.
The flat mounting both aids handling, by lowering the car’s centre of gravity, and increases the space available to design the interior to best suit the car’s occupants.
The first vehicle to use the new platform will be the Volkswagen ID, which goes into production at the end of 2019. By the end of 2022, the four brands should be offering up to 27 MEB-based models worldwide, from small cars to the lifestyle-pitched Bulli, a people-carrier retro styled to recall the iconic Type 2, better known as the VW Camper.
Volkswagen adds that some 10 million EVs will eventually use the first-generation MEB platform.
All ID models will be designed for fast charging. Using a new battery system developed in-house, Volkswagen claims charging to 80% capacity will be possible in 30 minutes. The group has also unveiled what it describes as an affordable home charging system dubbed the ‘Volks-Wallbox.’
Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen’s board member in charge of electric development, claims that the MEB will transform electric vehicles from niche products to best sellers.
“We will make electric vehicles popular and get as many people as possible excited about electric cars,” Ulbrich says.
“The MEB is one of the most important projects in the history of Volkswagen – a technological milestone, similar to the transition from the Beetle to the Golf.”