March 14, 2022
Volkswagen has confirmed a $2 billion investment to build a new factory that will produce its forthcoming electric, self-driving flagship model, the Trinity.
Construction of the plant, which is based in the Warmenau district of Wolfsburg in Lower Saxony, Germany, near VW’s main production facility, will begin next year with the Trinity scheduled to launch in 2026.
VW has high hopes for the Trinity, a Tesla-rivaling sedan the company claims will “set new standards in autonomous driving, electrification and the digitalization of mobility.”
The significance of the Trinity cannot be overstated, as it will be the first production model to be built on the VW Group’s new Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), which will introduce new digital tech and software systems, and over its lifetime is projected to be used as a basis for more than 40 million connected EVs across the group’s various brands.
One of the key manifestations of the heavy digital focus of the Trinity will be shorter production times – estimated at around 10 hours per car – as there will be fewer variants and components, with customers instead able to specify and activate the functions they want over the air on demand.
A teaser picture released last week revealed the Trinity to have a sweeping coupe-style roof, and it will be marketed primarily as a supremely comfortable, semi-autonomous, long-distance cruiser to take on Tesla. Electric range is said to be in excess of 700 km, and the car, VW says, will be “equipped with the Group’s state-of-the-art software and technically ready for Level 4 autonomous driving.”
Level 4, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, is described as “High Driving Automation” – essentially the car can drive itself, so does not require a steering wheel or pedals. At the time of launch, however, the Trinity is expected to be offered with Level 2 capabilities, which means partial autonomy, although the driver must be prepared to take control at all times.
The model is also likely to make use of VW’s forthcoming new operating system VW.OS 2.0, due to debut in 2024 or 2025. This will allow the Trinity to share data with other VW Group cars configured with it that are on the road by the time of its 2026 launch. Ultimately, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) functionality will allow the Trinity to gather information from other vehicles and roadside infrastructure and offer genuine self-driving when regulatory conditions allow.
“Trinity is our software dream car,” said Volkswagen CEO Ralf Brandstätter. “We are using our economies of scale to make autonomous driving available to many people and to build a learning neural network. In this way, we are creating the conditions for the continuous exchange of data from our vehicle fleet – for example, on the traffic situation, on obstacles or on accidents.”
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