Because of the delays in the development of its own vehicle software, which cost billions, Volkswagen could still call off the construction of the new plant in Wolfsburg for the future core model Trinity.
The company had already postponed the planning round for the medium-term investments - now CEO Oliver Blume and brand boss Thomas Schäfer indicated to the workforce that the most important project for the next few years will be reassessed: "We are currently taking the opportunity to all projects and investments to look at and check for viability."
In an internal letter, the two managers also expressly referred to the systems that were to be used in the Trinity, which was previously planned from 2026. "First of all, we jointly make the decision on the further software roadmap and layout of the platforms," explained Blume and Schäfer. "This is followed by the development of the product strategy with the specific projects of the individual brands for the next few years."
No cancellation of the Trinity
According to information from company circles, it is by no means a cancellation of the Trinity or the large-scale production platform SSP for 40 million vehicles - but a significant shift. We're talking about the "end of the decade" instead of 2026. The reasoning: If you need so much more time anyway, the project could perhaps be accommodated on the site of the main plant.
In March, the Volkswagen supervisory board waved the decision for a separate location in the neighboring district of Warmenau through. A key rationale was that the alternative electrification of Trinity's main plant would have been too complex and expensive if other models continued to be manufactured. However, individual areas are already being prepared there for the co-production of further series.
It was heard from the group environment that the time gap that a delayed Trinity would tear could even increase the chances of the headquarters for "additional and previously unplanned electric models". Then there might be options for the old plant that are based on the current e-construction kit MEB. Wolfsburg was recently chronically underutilized. Other sub-projects on the topics of batteries, charging and digitization are also attached to the Trinity.
As the "Manager-Magazine" reported, the entire course under the flower is now to be redefined. The head of the group has already made it clear to confidants that the Trinity factory planned in Warmenau will probably no longer be built. It was originally supposed to start there next spring, VW estimated a good two billion euros for this. However, the end has not yet been formally decided. The managers emphasized: "We make the decisions together - on the board, but also in close consultation with the employees."
Blume has been at the helm of Germany's largest company since September. His controversial predecessor, Herbert Diess, had been instrumental in driving Trinity forward, but fell over friction around the Cariad software division and delays in model launches.
The subsidiaries Audi and Porsche repeatedly warned that they could not wait until the completely new program version 2.0 was completed. Their software will therefore be pursued as version 1.2 in parallel with the cross-brand concept. The coordination and development problems had led, among other things, to the fact that the market launch of the electric version of the Porsche Macan slipped back significantly.
Clear schedule for quick decisions
Blume is still the head of Porsche AG. In his own words, he has set himself a clear timetable for making quick decisions - recently, for example, he and his US partner Ford completed the expensive autonomous driving project at the Argo AI holding. Volkswagen had to write off 1.9 billion euros for this.
On the situation in Wolfsburg, Blume and Schäfer emphasized: "Of course, we also keep a close eye on the situation at the main plant and the job security there." The revision of the investment plan is still ongoing. A works meeting is scheduled for December 7th. The employee representatives said: "The Group Board, the Brand Board and the employee representatives are in close, trusting and constructive communication on all issues."
Cariad boss Dirk Hilgenberg also addressed the employees. "The group is sticking to the standard software for all brands, but we're gaining some time," he wrote. "It's still a bit early for more details at this point." There was resistance and protest vigils against the new Wolfsburg building among local citizens' initiatives.
The city administration, which had competed with several municipalities for the location, was reserved about Blume's possible departure from a second plant. Wolfsburg's Lord Mayor Dennis Weilmann (CDU) said: "As part of the planning, the city and Volkswagen are still in close and trusting exchange." In addition, one does not comment "on the alleged changes during construction".