Series production of the ID.3 started:

This is how the Gläserne Manufaktur was converted in just a few weeks.

Passing the baton: Following the end of production of the e-Golf shortly before Christmas, series production of the ID.3 will begin in Dresden in January 2021.

After Zwickau, Dresden is the second Volkswagen location where the all-electric ID.3 is being built. Take a look behind the scenes with us at our production facility, where the e-Golf was still being built until the end of 2020.

The gray-painted body of the ID.31 rests securely in its hanger. But now there's a hitch: The body doesn't like to move to the robot that stamps the chassis number into the sheet metal. It is the first work step in the almost rebuilt production line at the Gläserne Manufaktur Dresden. Between the time the last e-Golf2 rolled off the line and the planned start of production of the ID.31, there were only a few weeks to convert the production line to the ID.31. A reporter accompanied the exciting conversion phase for us with camera and pen.

Fall 2020: An ID.3 pre-series vehicle in the hangar of the Transparent Factory.

Small difficulties do not upset Stefan Ochocki. The project coordinator for assembly planning has been in Dresden since it opened in 2001 and has seen it all here: Phaeton, Bentley Flying Spur, e-Golf2 and now just the ID.31. "It always has to jolt at the beginning," says Ochocki in a relaxed tone. Such issues can be resolved, and the start of series production will not fail because of the chassis number. It would be more difficult if things were to falter at the newly established panoramic glass roof station. The e-Golf2 did not have such a feature, so proven assembly technology cannot be used here. The same applies to the pre-assembly of the tailgate or the assembly of the power train and chassis. "These are new processes for us," adds Thomas Kunert, project manager for the ID.31 vehicle startup, adding, however, that a major advantage is that electromobility is not a new topic at the site. The transformation to the new drive type already took place in 2017. The team is now benefiting again from the experience gained from the start-up of the e-Golf2, report Kunert and Ochocki.

Everything on schedule: Stefan Ochocki, Project Coordinator of Assembly Planning (left) with Thomas Kunert, Project Manager Vehicle Startup ID.3.

The high demand for the e-Golf2 made the assembly conversion an open-heart operation. The e-Golf2 was produced until shortly before Christmas. The mounting points of the hangers and the assembly tables had to be changed during ongoing operations in order to be able to move both the e-Golf2 and the ID.31 safely through the plant.

As early as the summer vacations, during the first part of the conversion, the most visible change in the plant was created: a large steel arch, called a portal, now stands at the point where the marriage between chassis and body occurs. Because the ID.31 is heavier than the e-Golf2, its springs are also stronger - and correspondingly more forces are required when joining the upper and lower parts. "We used to hold it in place with two ropes, but the joining forces required are now three times as high," says Stefan Ochocki.

New: The steel arch. At the station where the chassis and body are joined, the joining forces are now three times higher than on the e-Golf.

This is why the new gantry was created, which will also impress visitors to the Transparent Factory in the future. Before the pandemic, around 145,000 interested visitors from all over the world came to the site each year. Many of them booked one of the popular guided tours in ten languages.

This will remain the case when the site switches to single-shift operation for the time being. Then there will be less staff needed in production - but none of the approximately 380 employees will have to leave. Those who do not build cars will be qualified for other tasks. The works council and the company have agreed on this. New jobs will be created in sales, for example. The number of deliveries in Dresden is to increase significantly. The target for 2022: 9,700 deliveries of various models - which requires qualified personnel.

The manufactory as a construction site: During the summer break, work was carried out on the wedding, among other things.

Watching closely: Volkswagen employees practice assembling the combination rear lamps on a pre-production vehicle.

New assembly step: training for the installation of the tailgate.

A one-off from this point on: the ID.3 is stamped by a robot on the rear seat crossmember.

ID.3 starts series production

In the first weeks of January, production was officially at a standstill, and the conveyor system was at a standstill. Nevertheless, semi-finished ID.31s could be seen from time to time - for employee training. "In the summer, we sent team and group leaders to Zwickau to help out. We call them multipliers; they are now virtually the teachers for their colleagues," says project manager Kunert.

Zwickau is the main location for the production of the ID.31, where several hundred thousand all-electric cars are to be built each year starting in 2021, if the Corona pandemic permits. Employees from Zwickau have therefore been and continue to be in Dresden to support their colleagues during the ramp-up. "But we can't adopt the work steps from Zwickau one-to-one," says Kunert. The different layout of the sites does not allow that.

At the start at the end of January, six ID.31s will initially be built per day before the number of units gradually increases. "The flat start-up curve is important so that the processes can settle in as well as possible," says Thomas Kunert. After the start-up phase, 35 all-electric ID.31s are to be built in Dresden every day. By then, at the latest, the hanger on the embossing robot will also no longer hook.

MEB locations

The technical basis for the electric cars of the new ID. family from Volkswagen is the modular e-drive system (MEB). The Transparent Factory is the fourth site worldwide where Volkswagen brand e-cars have been produced on the basis of the MEB. The growing ID. Family so far includes the compact ID.31 and the electric SUV ID.43. The Zwickau plant was the first location to start MEB production last year. The Chinese sites in Anting and Foshan followed at the end of 2020. With Emden, Hanover and Chattanooga, the next sites are already preparing for MEB production.

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1 ID.3: combined power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 15.4-14.5, CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+

2 e-Golf: Power consumption in kWh/100 km: 14.1 combined (17-inch) - 13,2 (16-inch); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0 (combined); efficiency class: A+

3 ID.4: combined power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 16,9-16,2 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+