Disruptive electrical automobile makers like Tesla have it straightforward. With no legacy market to serve, they’ll go all out to supply electrical vehicles and never fear about what may occur if typical automobile gross sales are changed by electrical automobiles. However that is a unique story for producers who nonetheless have a big gross sales quantity of inside combustion vehicles. That is why many take a route just like the one proven at Skoda’s newly redeveloped manufacturing facility in Mladá Boleslav within the Czech Republic. They do not actually have a alternative.
EV evangelists are likely to criticize electrical vehicles constructed on a shared platform with inside combustion variations (although Kia and Hyundai automobiles on this class are wonderful). Designs can have trade-offs, however that does not need to be a deciding issue. It’s attainable to supply designs that reply fairly properly to each sorts of transmission. The battery model might want to have area within the backside of the chassis for batteries which the interior combustion ones don’t want. However one of many causes Kia/Hyundai vehicles really feel much less compromised is that they are front-wheel drive, which implies the electrical and inside combustion motors are in the identical place up entrance.
Even having a purely electrical design does not imply these vehicles need to be inbuilt a wholly completely different manufacturing facility to standard ones. The batteries, engine management techniques and wiring harnesses might be completely different, and so they have electrical motors which are sometimes in an alternate location (VWs often have the motor within the again). However in any other case, EVs are nonetheless vehicles, so quite a lot of the identical strategies can be utilized when manufacturing.
What Skoda does in Mladá Boleslav is to completely combine the manufacture of auto varieties into one line. The large information, introduced final week, was that it will be the primary plant outdoors of Germany to fabricate battery techniques for the MEB platform utilized in Volkswagen Group’s pure electrical vehicles, such because the ID.3, ID.4, Audi This fall e-tron and lately launched Cupra Born. Cells and packs are manufactured elsewhere and imported, so that is the method of constructing them right into a system, which at present has a capability of 55 kWh, 62 kWh and 82 kWh. These will then primarily be used to construct the Enyaq iV and the coupe from Skoda in a close-by constructing.
However these won’t be the one automobiles produced on the manufacturing facility. The automotive manufacturing traces are an identical in Mladá Boleslav, whether or not it is Skoda Octavias, Superbs or absolutely electrical Enyaq iVs. I noticed the identical employees (typically ladies, which was nice to see) go from engaged on typical vehicles to engaged on the all-electric Enyaq iV and its Coupe variant, relying on what got here up at their station alongside the road. The truth that staff can dynamically change between the 2 permits Skoda to differ its manufacturing primarily based on demand (and elements provide, presumably).
It is high-quality to mock conventional producers for persevering with to construct inside combustion vehicles. However they face a tough state of affairs, balancing a declining market towards a rising one. As electrical automobile gross sales explode, notably in Europe, they’re unlikely to completely take over the market within the developed world for not less than a decade. In creating international locations and America, the time may very well be for much longer. In the course of the transition section, conventional producers should proceed to construct non-EVs primarily based on demand.
The query is find out how to handle the transition, and that’s the reason it’s important to have a versatile manufacturing line in a position to instantly change from one sort of automotive to a different. Skoda’s technique in Mladá Boleslav is more likely to be widespread. BMW already has an identical plan, with the i4 being made alongside 3- and 4-series vehicles, and the iX alongside the 5- and 7-series. Volkswagen has sufficient factories to dedicate some, like Zwickau, to electrical automobiles solely. . The ID.3, ID.4, ID.5, Audi This fall e-tron and Cupra Born are produced right here. However smaller, low-volume manufacturers – even when they’re half of a bigger group like Skoda – must hedge their bets extra.
It’s clear that the transition to electrical automobiles will deliver casualties in its wake. Tesla is taking the lead and Volkswagen seems to be efficiently launching its EV technique beneath the management of Herbert Diess. BMW had a lead with the i3, misplaced it, however is now coming again with the i4 and iX. Hyundai and Kia have come out with promising designs, as has Volvo/Polestar. However different producers are additional behind the curve. They must search for methods to transition to electrical automobile manufacturing as simply as attainable, as Skoda has clearly executed, in order that they’ll proceed to obtain income from inside combustion powertrains whereas growing electrical automobile manufacturing. . In any other case, the longer term may not be very brilliant for them.