Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume plans to push back the automaker's key Trinity flagship EV project from 2026 toward the end of the decade and may also scrap plans for a new factory in Germany, reports said.
VW said in March that it would to invest 2 billion euros in a new factory near its Wolfsburg headquarters to build electric cars with advanced self-driving features, with construction due to start in spring 2023.
The Trinity EVs would use the group's new SSP software-led platform, which VW says will enable Level 4 autonomy, meaning the car will be able to drive itself.
VW had planned to officially start production at the new factory in 2026. Blume wants to delay this until 2030 because new software will not be ready in time, Manager Magazin reported.
VW's management still plans to bring the self-driving, long-range EVs to market, a source told Reuters, adding the question was whether a new factory was needed in Wolfsburg or the assembly line at Wolfsburg's main plant could produce them.
The SSP platform will probably no longer be launched with the Trinity plant as originally planned, Manager Magazin reported.
The delays complicate VW's bid to catch up with Tesla and lay bare the challenges of overhauling Europe’s biggest automaker, from retooling factories to fixing buggy software that has frustrated drivers of its electric cars.
VW "currently is taking the opportunity to look at all projects and investments and check them for viability," the company said in an internal message to employees. A spokesperson declined to comment further.
VW planned to build a new plant to slash production times to match those of Tesla at its new European factory near Berlin by using techniques such as large die casting and cutting the number of components in its cars.
Tesla says it can already produce a Model Y SUV in 10 hours at its factory in Gruenheide near Berlin, whereas it can take VW three times as long to make its ID3 full-electric hatchback.
The decision to add a new factory site was part of former CEO Herbert Diess’s push to make EVs faster and become more efficient. The executive, whom Blume replaced in September, last year unveiled aggressive strategies for EVs, software and new-mobility offerings.
Blume has to walk back some of those targets because they are unrealistic, a VW source said, adding that the details of the changes are still being worked out.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report