Deep Dive: Volkswagen Group takes a step back?

I think Herbert Diess is turning over in his... vineyard.

Diess eating a pear
Or, actually, I think it is a  pear-yard ?

I've been waiting for some serious move of what the Herbert Diess → Oliver Blume change in the VW Group will bring about, and this might be the start of it.

The News

Volkswagen Group's CEO Oliver Blume is reportedly planning to push back the Trinity EV project from 2026 to ~2030 because the new software (along with the Scalable Systems Platform (SSP)) won't be ready in time. ( link ) ( original in  🇩🇪 , paywalled )

"The E3 1.2 software, which is already years late and primarily intended for Porsche and Audi, is to be used for longer and refreshed again in between. The E3 2.0 software will not start in 2026, but in 2029"

The decision hasn't been formally made yet as far as we know.

The company may also scrap plans for the $2.1B Trinity plant in Warmenau, near its Wolfsburg facility — and is discussing an assembly line at Wolfsburg's main plant. Originally the construction for the Trinity plant was set to start in spring 2023.

Blume said in a separate letter to employees ( link ):

"We are taking the opportunity to look at all projects and investments and check their viability,"

Another German news outlet, FAZ, has now learned that there will be up to €1.5B invested into improving the current MEB platform, and the VW unified cells which were meant to be used in the SSP platform will also be brought forward to be used on the MEB. ( link ) FAZ says Blume and the VW Brand CEO Schäfer have already decided against the new Trinity plant.

My two Watts

I see two intertwined but major problems here for the Volkswagen Group, which seem to put the automaker at a serious disadvantage, potentially for the next eight years:

  • lack of a great EV platform and production efficiency (danger of MEB being/getting outdated, just being stretched to more models), and
  • lack of great software in the cars.

All of this might turn out to be a world of pain for the automaker. I do hope there's a grander vision here that they'll pivot to and plans which they haven't yet made public, especially in terms of innovation.

From what I've gathered, the Trinity plant was very much the push of Herbert Diess, as he saw Volkswagen lagging behind in efficiency of EV production. As he witnessed Tesla dishing out a Model Y in 10 hours, three times faster on average than their ID.3, Diess was determined to create the same in VW Group with Trinity.

But that's the thing. The Diess era was about catching Tesla. This is the core that seems to have changed.

Anyway, here's my attempt at humor about all this: ( tweet )

Still in the EV game

In terms of EV production, there's no denying that Volkswagen Group and also the brand itself still is one of the biggest EV makers out there (Group #2  last year , or VW brand #4).

While this year's results aren't in yet, our current  data  tells us the group is in the 4th overall place.

Volkswagen just recently celebrated producing its 500,000th ID model, a milestone it took about two years to reach. ( link )