German automaker Volkswagen is investing an additional one billion euros or roughly $1.13 billion to convert another one of its factories into a fully-electric production plant. The move follows a similar investment to its Zwickau factory, which it had also retrofitted to build fully-electric vehicles.
The new investment underscores the company's rapidly increasing investments into its full electrification. Among all other automakers, the company is the first major company to have completely converted an existing gasoline and diesel car factory into a fully-electric vehicle production facility. Last year, the company spent hundreds of millions of dollars retrofitting its Zwickau factory to produce its ID.3 electric vehicle.
The next factory in line for a conversion is the company's Emden plant. Volkswagen announced that retrofitting should be complete sometime next year and it expects the factory to start producing fully-electric vehicles by 2022. Volkswagen brand chief executive officer, Ralf Brandstätter, mentioned in a statement that the conversion of the factory should increase the pace of the company's eventual electrification. He added that the Emden plant will become the cornerstone of its electric strategy as it will be capable of producing fully-electric vehicles in large volumes.
As of now, the facility will mainly be fitted with equipment to produce its ID.4 electric model. Over time, the facility will be upgraded for it to produce other future electric models. While the retrofit is underway, parts of the facility will continue to produce the company's Passat and Arteon models. Once work is completed, Volkwagen expects the Emden facility to produce up to 300,000 electric vehicles per year.
Part of the conversion work will involve the installation of a new 50,000 square meter factory hall dedicated to the assembly of electric vehicles. Other facilities dedicated to electric models will also be installed within the complex. The same contractors and employees that were tasked with converting its Zwickau factory will also be working on the Emden conversion.
Volkswagen's ID.4 fully-electric model is an important vehicle for the company as it is heavily relying on its success to make its investments justifiable. The ID.4, which is a fully electric compact sports utility vehicle (SUV), has a range of 250 miles with a price tag of around $40,000. The vehicle is Volkswagen's answer to Tesla's Model Y compact SUV.
Apart from its investments in retrofitting its existing plans, Volkswagen is also pouring in a lot of money in developing related technologies. Last month, the company invested over $200 million into solid-state battery firm QuantumScape. The Stanford University spinout is one of the global leaders in the development of new battery technologies.