After the ID Buzz electric van, Volkswagen plans to convert its entire van fleet to electric from 2028. The start will be made in 2028 by the large van Crafter, announced VW Commercial Vehicles boss Carsten Intra in an interview with the German Press Agency. The other models will then come gradually: "We are planning a timed model change, not all at once, but neatly offset in a reasonable rhythm." In the end, a complete family of electric vehicles is to be created under the project name "Space".

Until now, the Hanover-based VW van division had relied primarily on the ID Buzz, which was launched in 2022, and of which there will also be a long-wheelbase version and a sporty variant next year. The fact that the entire fleet is now being electrified is the result of a failed major order from Audi: The Ingolstadt-based sister company actually wanted to have a new electric top model built in Hanover from 2026. But in September, Audi withdrew the order. As a replacement, VW Commercial Vehicles was awarded the contract by the Group for its own electric platform.

This creates the possibility of electrifying the entire fleet. For the first time, an entire vehicle family can be developed on the new platform. "That simply wouldn't have been possible with the platform on which the ID Buzz is built." This is because the E-Bulli still shares the technology with the ID.4 electric SUV from the passenger car division. The E-Crafter, which was offered in small numbers until 2022, was even just a combustion engine converted to electric. In the end, the new platform will therefore be significantly better than the discontinued Audi order, Intra is convinced. "We are now strengthening our own commercial vehicle expertise with our own platform. We've never had that before."

"We have completely changed our strategy"

For VW Commercial Vehicles, this is a radical change of course. "We have completely changed our strategy," Intra said. "From a lot of third-party production for other brands to in-house products." As a result, you now have all the strings in your own hands. "What we have now is actually a vision for the next 15 to 20 years." In the end, this will more than compensate for the loss of the Audi order.

In contrast to the passenger car division, which is suffering from production losses and high costs, business at VW Commercial Vehicles is currently going well, according to Intra. "2023 is going to be a very strong year, I'm sure of that," he said. "In fact, we think it could be a record year in terms of earnings." After the supply bottlenecks of the past few years, production is now running again and the high order backlog is being worked through.

Until mid-2024, the company is still working at full capacity with previous orders. It will not continue like this after that. "The next two or three years will certainly be more difficult," said the brand boss with a view to the economy. "We're going to have to stretch ourselves a bit."

The ten billion euro savings package, which is currently being negotiated with the works council in Wolfsburg, does not affect the commercial vehicle division, Intra emphasized. The company is not involved in the negotiations, the targeted sum only refers to the passenger car division. "We already have our own strategic program, which we call Grip." This has been going well since 2021 with good results: "We are even making faster progress than originally planned."

He therefore sees no reason to go one better here, Intra said. In terms of personnel, too, the company is continuing to reduce its workforce from 2029,15 to a good 000,10 by 000 – without layoffs by not filling vacant positions. "And we'll be able to keep this team busy."

55 percent electric share from 2030

When VW Commercial Vehicles will completely phase out the combustion engine, Intra left open. "Ultimately, that's up to the customers to decide." By 2030, however, the company wants to achieve an electric share of more than 55 percent. "In the end, the market will decide when it will be 100 percent." However, with the new electric platform, which is now being developed for the "Space" family, it is possible to react flexibly at any time.

Intra also left open when the ID California electric camper based on the ID Buzz, which was announced in 2021, will be launched. "The concept is basically ready. But we will have to wait until such a vehicle is really widely demanded. We don't see that yet." He therefore does not expect the electric motorhome to be launched until the second half of the decade. "Certainly not before 2025. And not after 2030 either."