Volkswagen Canada CEO on its new modular platform and I.D. vehicles

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Volkswagen (VW) showed a glimpse at its future at the 2019 Canadian Auto Show with the company’s new I.D. Crossover concept electric vehicle.

The I.D. Crossover concept is incredibly important for the legacy automaker since it’s staking a lot on the new modular MEB electric vehicle (EV) platform. MEB is an acronym for the German words “Modularer Elektrobaukasten” since the platform, at its heart, is designed to make the vehicle’s core modular.

The system is a set of design rules and parts that the company is using to standardize the core of its vehicles.

“Instead of having a platform for each different vehicle, we can use one platform that different cars are being built on, and that helps, obviously, to offset costs,” said Volkswagen Group Canada’s president and CEO Daniel Weissland in an interview with MobileSyrup

Things like batteries, charging plugs, the drivetrain and power electronics will be the same across multiple vehicles to come out of the Volkswagen Automotive Group. This includes brands like Audi, Bentley, Porsche, and more.

The platform even allows Volkswagen to make its vehicles smaller on the outside and larger on the inside, according to Weissland.

The first MEB-based production car to hit the consumer market is Audi’s upcoming E-Tron. The first Volkswagen MEB vehicle Canadians will see is a crossover that should look similar to the I.D. Crossover concept on display at the Auto Show.

“The real version will come to the Canadian market in the next two years as a real car,” said Weissland.

There are more I.D. vehicles in development, like a hatchback that’s for the European market. Since Canadian buyers tend to want crossovers with lots of storage and high seats, Canada is getting a crossover I.D.

Volkswagen might not even keep this platform to itsself; Weissland said the company is open to working with other automakers to collaborate on and share the platform.

When asked about how legacy automakers should feel about newer all-electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, and, to a lesser extent, companies like Rivian, Weissland said, “you need to give Tesla all the credit. It disrupted the industry. They were the first ones who moved into full electric and probably seven or eight years ago where everybody thought, ‘okay, oh my God, Tesla is not gonna last long,’ and I think it’s a significant player in certain segments and certain parts of the country.”

When asked about the smaller manufacturers, Wiessland had less faith in their staying power.

The Volkswagen Auto Group alone invested $50 billion into its electric future, which is something Wiessland sees as an advantage for the company.

“It says magnitudes. No other manufacturers are doing this, so that means we are all in, we’re fully committed to what we call the Roadmap-E.”