The electric car offensive from Volkswagen will soon begin. After years of laggin behind other carmakers because of the research it needed to do, the German auto giant promises that thanks to its new modular platform, there will be ten million electric Volkswagen group cars on the roads in the coming years.
This new platform, the one which allows for this electric revolution is referred to by Volkswagen as the MEB. That’s kind of short for Modular Electrification Toolkit.
WHAT IS IT?
Volkswagen MEB platform
MEB is a car platform. It will be used to underpin the future cars manufactured by Volkswagen and its sub-brands. Because it is modular, meaning it can be shortened, lengthened and otherwise modified, it can be used on various types of cars, ranging in size from SUVs to hatchbacks.
This is not the first modular platform for Volkswagen. Back in 2012, the Germans introduced the Modular Transverse Matrix, or MQB, on which models like the Audi TT and A3, Skoda Superb and Karoq or Volkswagen Golf and Jetta are based on. In all, some 55 million cars sold over the past decade.
The MEB is an evolution of the MBQ, one that drops the design needed for transverse, front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout in favor of a design capable of incorporating electric batteries and wheel motors.
In the MEB, the bar-of-chocolate looking traction battery sits on the floor of the platform, between the axles, so that it distributes the load evenly. Depending on what vehicle it will underpin, the battery can be used to drive one axle or both of them.
The configuration of the platform will allow the deployment of batteries with different capacities for ranges that can be more than 550 kilometers (341 miles).
The traction battery is accompanied by the low-voltage battery which is located at the front of the car, behind the place where a radiator is located in an ICE car. This one is meant to power the car’s electronics.
To allow for the use of different-sized batteries, the wheels on the platform are located closest as possible to the corners of the car.
The configuration of the platform means that in terms of overall length it can be about the same size as the one used on the Golf. The amount of interior space is, however, larger, being comparable in size with that of the Passat.
WHAT WILL IT BE
The MEB is just the starting point for a new range of Volkswagen vehicles. At first, the carmaker will use it for electric vehicles’ configuration, but as technology progresses, it will be configured to accommodate the required systems for digitalization, connectivity, and fully autonomous driving.
MEB will be used in parallel with the newest generation of MQB, one to underpin electric cars, the other conventional ones. MEB will be used across a total of five brands and in three regions of the world.
As a side note, Volkswagen says it may use the MQB to create electric vehicles in the future as well, as the platform can be used for such a task.
There will however never be an internal combustion engined car built on the MEB platform, as that is not possible.
So far, the carmaker has deployed the MEB on several car concepts, including the e-Bus BUDD-e in 2016, the I.D. BUZZ or the I.D. Vizzion.
The first production model based on the MEB platform is expected to be presented in 2020. Cars on this platform will be produced in Zwickau in Germany and Foshan and Anting in China.
By the middle of the next decade, Volkswagen plans to have 50 purely electric vehicles on the roads, meaning one in four new vehicles will be powered by electricity.