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Autonomy, ultra-rapid charging and digitalisation, plus a new business model for VW

Volkswagen has provided a preview of Project Trinity, a flagship electric saloon which will be produced at the brand’s Wolfsburg plant from 2026. It is set to bring with it new standards in range, autonomy and charging speeds, as well as the harbinger of a new business model for Volkswagen.

Project Trinity will be born out as “A sort of crystallisation point for our ACCELERATE strategy, a lighthouse project, our software dream car,” according to Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of VW. The new electric saloon will be a bastion for all of Volkswagen’s newest technologies upon its release in 2026 and whilst we don’t know what it will look like, the silhouette teaser image shows a profile not dissimilar to the Arteon.  

The car will be based on an all-new architecture which will take the best bits from the MEB platform which underpins the ID.3 and ID.4, as well as other mid-sized VW Group EVs, and incorporate new technologies which are currently in development. Charging “as fast as refuelling” is being mooted.  

In-line with the name “Trinity”, there are three main pillars of development being undertaken: the new platform with state-of-the-art software, the simplification of the supply structure, and “fully networked and intelligent” production at the Wolfsburg plant.  

Autonomy features highly within Project Trinity and it is Volkswagen’s intention that its developments will bring higher levels of autonomy into more sectors of the car market. At its launch in 2026, Trinity will have Level 2+ and be ready for software upgrades to Level 4 (hands off, unsupervised) autonomy, which VW aims to have in place by 2030. In Volkswagen’s traditional way, it is aiming to use the economies of scale to make autonomy more widely available in the future, leveraging its vehicle fleet to continuously develop it.  

This ability to receive continuous upgrades to its software is a major feature of Trinity, and VW’s plans going forward.  

“In the future, the individual configuration of the vehicle will no longer be determined by the hardware at the time of purchase. Instead, customers will be able to add functions on demand at any time via the digital ecosystem of the car,” said Brandstätter. Within the Group, both Porsche and Audi are already offering ‘Functions on Demand’ (FoD) via over-the-air (OTA) updates on their respective Taycan and e-tron GT models.  

This way of building cars – as a digitally-led process with all the necessary hardware for future digital upgrades installed at the factory – will enable Volkswagen to produce Trinity, and other future EVs, with fewer variants. Customers will simply be able to pay for (or subscribe to) and turn on new functions on demand.  

Building cars with a high level of hardware installed as standard enables VW to fulfil the third pillar of its Trinity programme: state-of-the-art, intelligent and full networked production. This proposed ‘complete rethink’ of the way the brand builds cars will be based around digitalisation of the production process, automation and lightweight construction.  

All of this development through Project Trinity will help VW to pursue its ACCELERATE strategy, through which it is aiming to have more than 70 per cent of its European fleet sold as EVs by 2030 – double its previous commitment. The Group is investing some £13bn in autonomy, digital systems and its new connected business model to make this happen, with Trinity being the first realisation of the investment.  

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