inside
The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand

E-mobility

A clear plan 
for change

Staff at the Braunschweig site are set to start building battery systems. Joost Kessels (41) 
is heading up the e-mobility center here and has been integral in shaping the transformation process.

The electric platform of the future: chassis, battery, and drive of the I. D.

2019 is shaping up to be an incredibly important year for the site. As of this year, Braunschweig will alsobe building battery systems for the I. D. family in addition to its usual steering systems, shock absorbers, and brake discs. Joost Kessels has this year firmly in his sights. The 41-year-old is at the helm of the e-mobility competence center and is responsible for shaping the transition toward electric drives with the help of around 700 employees.

Even today, around 120 employees have already started building battery systems for the cars using the Modular Transverse Toolkit (MQB) and PQ cross platform in three shifts on three lines. More than 200 are manufactured every day for the e-up!1, e-Golf2, and the Passat GTE3.

Batteries in cars are now responsible for far more than simply storing electrical energy. These days, we talk about “battery systems.” These are components comprising over 2,000 individual parts, like in the e-Golf, for example – including cell modules, controllers, battery control units, and the housing. All weighing barely 350 kilograms. “We have to be able to satisfy the growing demand for our electric cars while also rising to the challenges we face with regard to the battery systems for the I. D. family,” explains Kessels. “We have a clear plan in place for all of this.”

The change is affecting many employees, and is having a particularly far-reaching effect in terms of the technical transition. The Passat GTE and the e-Golf are built on the MQB platform. In two years, however, the new generation of electric cars is set to be built on the MEB, or modular electrification toolkit, and it’s full steam ahead with the preparations. The same also goes for the battery systems. These still have to be fully developed, incorporated into a pre-series phase, and then added to the production line. The pathway to the launch is a steep one, with production set to quintuple before too long.

»There has been a lot of uncertainty from our staff, but we’re helping to make sure everyone is happy with where we’re going.«

The future has already begun. “We’re redesigning our site,” explains Kessels, who joined Volkswagen at the Braunschweig facility in 2001. The plant is expanding its battery expertise in terms of development, planning, and production. The challenge is ensuring we take all of our employees with us on this journey to becoming the e-mobility competence center as we start building battery systems for the I. D. family. “There has been a lot of uncertainty from our staff,” notes Kessels. “But we’re helping to make sure everyone is happy with where we’re going.”

The hub is a transformation and training center that offers advice and guidance for our employees. The aim here is to match up their qualifications with what will be required by their new role in producing battery systems. “It is so essential to make sure we find the most suitable roles for our employees,” reports Kessels. Training courses on battery system production are also being organized to get everyone ready for their new positions in Hall 23. The transition will be creating over 230 jobs.

Anyone switching to a battery production role first has to learn how to work on a live battery system. Not only for safety reasons, but also to be able to work on the line with their team.

Excellent communication skills will also be vital, and this will take place in the form of transformation maps. These will allow managers and HR to keep employees up to date in good time. The first prototypes of the I. D. batteries are already coming into being at the pilot series center. “Here, too,” Kessels notes, “we are aiming to get employees on board as early as possible. After all, we’re all in the same boat.”