An acronym that is absolutely vital to the Volkswagen Group’s short-to-medium-term electric vehicle strategy: MEB.
German for Modularer E-Antriebs Baukasten (roughly translated as modular electric drive matrix), MEB refers to electric cars where MQB used to be the Group’s combustion engine car, namely a platform Only suitable for small to medium sized vehicles.
MEB is important to Volkswagen as the company’s first dedicated, mass-produced platform for electric vehicles. It is part of a huge investment of 89 billion euros ($137 billion) in futures technology through 2026, which includes funds to develop electric vehicles, related digitization, tools and manufacturing , and mobile services.
Indeed, in 2018, Volkswagen senior executive Thomas Ulbrich noted that “MEB is arguably the most important project in Volkswagen’s history, similar to the transition from Beetle to Golf. “
Unlike previous electric vehicle models produced by the Volkswagen Group, such as the VW e-Golf (which is based on the MQB platform and tailored to accommodate batteries and electric motors), the MEB can only support Fully battery-powered vehicles, such as those based on the MEB platform, must be designed from the ground up as an electric car.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the MEB architecture is its flexibility. The MEB chassis allows for the lengthening or shortening of the wheelbase and track width, making the platform suitable for everything from small cars to sedans, SUVs and mid-size trucks.
Despite the variation in chassis dimensions, tooling and manufacturing costs for MEB vehicles are reduced thanks to economies of scale in sharing powertrain components, batteries, and other systems. systems such as the vehicle’s infotainment and electrical architecture.
All MEB-based models are available with single-engine rear-wheel drive or dual-engine all-wheel drive.
Volkswagen claims that recent improvements to battery cell chemistry for upcoming MEB vehicles mean the platform can now be used to build vehicles with a range of more than 700 km, DC fast charging is greater than 200kW and maximum acceleration from 0-100 km/h. less than 5.5 seconds.
This is an improvement over the original estimate that the MEB vehicle can provide a range of more than 550 km with DC fast charging at up to 125kW.
Automakers often outsource the development of their infotainment systems to third-party vendors. However, as part of its investments in digitization, the Volkswagen Group established an independent division called CARIAD in 2020 to bring software development to all VW Group brands. .
MEB marks the launch of CARIAD’s first in-house infotainment system, called E3 v1.1, and brings a new user interface and features such as over-the-air software updates.
There are currently no MEB-based vehicles for sale in Australia. However, Cupra was born likely to be the first vehicle based on the MEB platform to go on sale locally when it arrives in the first quarter of 2023.
Globally, a wide range of vehicles using MEB are available, some of which may also arrive in Australia in the future.
Arguably the most important is the Volkswagen brand ID. variety of cars, including ID. 3 hatches (closely related to the Cupra Born), as well as the larger ID.4 and ID.5 SUVs.
The Chinese market also exclusively received a ID.6 SUV provides seating for seven people.
More recently, VW revealed I. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargowith original VW Kombi/Microbus inspired design and paint colors.
Other Volkswagen Group brands are also using the MEB platform. This includes Skoda Enyaq iV and Enyaq Coupé iVscheduled to debut here, as well as the unconfirmed Audi Q4 e-tron and Sportback e-tron in Australia.
The Volkswagen Group expects that more than 10 million vehicles on the road will eventually be powered by the MEB platform, and as part of this, the Group plans to release a number of other models on the MEB architecture.
As a sleek fastback sedan, the Aero is expected to offer a maximum range of more than 600 km from the 77kWh battery due to optimized aerodynamics, with the concept achieving a claimed drag coefficient of just 0 ,23.
Production of the production version is expected to begin in China in the second half of 2023, with production in Europe also set to begin next year.
The Volkswagen Group also plans to launch a range of smaller EVs on a version of the MEB platform, with confirmed entry-level EVs for the Cupra, Skoda and Volkswagen brands.
While Skoda and Volkswagen have only released sketches of their imported models, Cupra has revealed two different concept versions of the upcoming model under the UrbanRebel branding.
Latest UrbanRebel concept has a single 166kW electric motor and an undisclosed size battery pack. The engine is front-mounted to provide front-wheel drive, as opposed to existing MEB models.
Cupra claims the UrbanRebel “range version” will have an all-electric range of 440 km.
These models aim to be more affordable than existing MEB models. Volkswagen previously confirmed that it is targeting a starting price of around 20,000 euros ($32,000) for its entry-level EV.
The Volkswagen Group is also planning additional and successor platforms to the MEB architecture.
PPE will be used as the basis for larger, more luxurious models than MEB-powered vehicles, such as the next generation. Porsche Macan EV and Audi Q6 e-tron, as well as Audi A6 e-tron and A6 Avant e-tron.
During the second half of this decade, the Volkswagen Group will also introduce its next-generation EV architecture, called SSP (Scalable System Platform), which will debut on a new flagship for the Volkswagen brand called Trinity.
The SSP is expected to replace both the MEB and PPE architectures, with VW CEO Herbert Diess stating that the platform will be suitable for light vehicles offering power from 85kW to super The car has a capacity of 850kW.
The Volkswagen Group is expected to build more than 40 million cars over the life of the SSP platform.
Unlike VW’s previous combustion engine platforms such as the MQB, the company is open to licensing both the future MEB and SSP platforms to automakers outside the Volkswagen Group.
As part of a broader partnership with Ford that also includes technologies such as autonomous driving, Volkswagen recently announced that Ford will license the MEB platform. produced two Ford electric cars for the European market.
The first model is expected to be an EV crossover, and while details on the second model are uncertain, Ford expects the two models to total 1.2 million units. produced for a period of 6 years from 2023.
Indian manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra has also decided cooperation with Volkswagen. Under the agreement, Mahindra intends to use aspects of the MEB architecture, including electric motors, batteries and related powertrain components, for its ‘Born Electric’ platform.
The current agreement allows Mahindra to conduct a review phase to determine what it can borrow from the MEB toolkit, with a binding supply agreement to be negotiated later this year.