With the launch of production of the ID.3 in January 2021 in the Transparent Factory in Dresden, the former “Centre of Future Mobility” will steadily transform into the “Home of the ID.” over the coming years.
The central goal is to act as a beacon for Volkswagen in Germany, offering customers, visitors and guests a holistic experience of the ID. family – from initial advice and test drives, to production visits, co-constructing the ID.3 and modern event formats, up to the handover of electric vehicles. An additional focus of the strategic realignment is the development of a research and innovation site (Pilot Factory) that drives innovative projects on a pilot scale for later use in large capacity sites at Volkswagen.
In Dresden, customers, visitors and guests get to experience how the Volkswagen brand is shaping the mobility of the future. During a 75-minute tour, they can see close-up how Volkswagen produces its ID.3. The highlight of the visit is a free road test (30 minutes) through Dresden with electric vehicles.
Dresden’s largest public, partially solar-powered e-mobility station is located next to the Transparent Factory and has been in operation since April 2017. Cooperation has also been agreed between Volkswagen Sachsen and Dresden, the capital of Saxony. The objective is to make Dresden a model city for e-mobility and digitalisation.
Since August 2017, innovative start-ups in the field of mobility services have received support for six months each at Volkswagen’s newly installed Future Mobility Incubator at the Transparent Factory. So far, they have each received financial support in the amount of €15,000, IT infrastructure, software, free office space, vehicles and access to the Volkswagen expert network. The city of Dresden also provided assistance and financed accommodation for the young entrepreneurs. The incubator concept is currently being reworked.
In March 2018, the Future Mobility Campus was inaugurated. This provides education and training for employees, school classes and, primarily, dealerships.
Production and new business areas
The Volkswagen Phaeton and the Bentley Flying Spur were produced at the Transparent Factory for 14 years up to March 2016. The realignment of the plant for the flexible handcrafted production of various models has been completed. The e-Golf was assembled here from April 2017 to December 2020. The Transparent Factory in Dresden was therefore the first site of the Volkswagen brand to be converted fully to electric mobility. Mass production of the ID.3 began in January 2021. As with the production ramp-up of the e-Golf in 2017, production of the ID.3 is also starting with one shift and 35 vehicles from Monday to Friday. In 2021, 4,332 ID.3 vehicles were produced.
Alongside production, new and expanded business areas have been established and developed. Significantly more vehicles are now being handed over to customers in the Transparent Factory. To that end, a second delivery point was recently set up in the factory – which is unique in the automotive industry. The number of vehicle handovers to customers was increased from 1,301 in 2019 and 3,293 in 2020 to 4,320 vehicles in 2021.
The Functional Testing station in Dresden is being further expanded. It is an integral part of the worldwide network of testing stations for whole vehicle development. Its focal points: the testing of assistance systems, mobile online services, engines and chassis.
In the Technical Vehicle Service, Volkswagen used vehicles are inspected and repaired. Electric vehicles are also prepared for delivery at the Transparent Factory. The goal is to deliver vehicles produced in Dresden primarily in Dresden.
Moreover, Production 4.0 is being driven forward in the Transparent Factory. The guiding principle is the automation and digitalisation of complex operations within assembly and logistics. Specifically, the factory acts as a planned pilot plant in the company for the development and application of new technologies in real series processes.
Experience world and service
Volkswagen is breaking new ground with an experience world integrated in the Transparent Factory. Here, visitors and customers can find out about Volkswagen, e-mobility and digitalisation. They get a close-up view of production as the tour goes directly along the production line. Around 64,000 visitors were welcomed in 2020, despite the many months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, the number was 43,000. In comparison, some 146,000 visitors were welcomed in 2019 before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Since more than a quarter of all visitors come from abroad, the tours are offered in ten languages; in addition to German and English, languages such as Chinese, French, Czech and Polish were especially popular in previous years. There are also offers for children and families and tours with special focal points, for example on the environment and architecture. Visitor experience packages including a road test, a visit to the e-VITRUM restaurant and combined tickets with the Semper Opera House, the Dresden Transport Museum and the city tour round off the offering.
Customers can take delivery of the following models in the Transparent Factory: ID.3, ID.4, ID.5!, e- up!, Golf GTE, Passat GTE, Passat GTE Estate, Arteon eHybrid, Arteon Shooting Brake eHybrid, Tiguan eHybrid, Touareg eHybrid, Golf Saloon Mild- Hybrid, Golf Estate Mild-Hybrid as well as all Touareg models with conventional drive. Customers benefit from an exclusive welcome in a separate part of the Visitors’ Forum. The actual handing-over of the new vehicle is a special experience. In 2021, 4,320 vehicles were handed over to customers in the Transparent Factory, so more than three times as many as in 2019, despite the closure.
In 2018, the brand set itself an ambitious target for environmental relief in production: by 2025, vehicles and component parts are to be built with a total of 45 percent less environmental impact than in 2010, the reference year of the current environmental programme "Think Blue. Factory." environmental programme. Volkswagen is thus on its way to becoming a resource-optimised factory at all of the brand's locations.
In 2018, the Transparent Factory became the first of the brand's sites worldwide to begin manufacturing its vehicles in a balance-sheet CO2-neutral manner. The power supply by Volkswagen-Naturstrom® and the heat supply by SachsenEnergie are already CO2-free.
Volkswagen's responsibility for the environment also includes biodiversity. Environmental protection was already of central importance during the planning of the Transparent Factory: around 56,000 euros were invested to plant 350 trees. Special lamps in the outdoor area operate in the yellow spectral range to protect insects from the nearby botanical garden. Volkswagen has also made a concrete commitment to biodiversity: since May 2019, nine colonies of 50,000 bees have been buzzing around the factory grounds at the Great and Botanical Gardens - 450,000 bees, looked after by an employee at the factory. The honey, around 360 kilograms, is sold in the manufactory restaurant e-Vitrum. Furthermore, the depth of the building complex was designed to keep the groundwater balance in equilibrium. The sealed area was reduced from 6.7 to 4.8 hectares compared to the previous built-up area of the site.
Social and cultural commitment
The Transparent Factory is not only a production facility and an industrial employer. With its location in the centre of Dresden, it also forms part of the city’s social and cultural life and shares responsibility for the future of the region. As the Centre of Future Mobility, it is a pioneer of e-mobility. The Transparent Factory aims to allow visitors to experience e-mobility close-up and to help shape the automotive future of the city of Dresden with new mobility concepts and offerings. The fact that the Transparent Factory also assumes responsibility for people of the region is evident from the support for a large number of projects and activities connected with social well-being and cultural development.
Employees have also given a signal for sustainable commitment with a small change campaign. For more than 15 years, they have donated the cents on their salary statements every month. The Transparent Factory uses the proceeds of these donations to provide long-term support for Sonnenstrahl e.V. – a charity in Dresden supporting children and young people with cancer. Annual activities by the workforce also include sponsored runs for UNICEF Dresden. Through regional cultural projects and partnerships, Volkswagen furthermore fosters cultural education and development. Activities include long-term partnerships with the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the Semper Opera House.
Danny Auerswald is a graduate industrial engineer (TU Dresden) and – having spent five years with Volkswagen Consulting management consultancy – began his career in 2013 in various production and logistics roles at Volkswagen. He was spokesperson for the members of the Group and Brand Boards of Management, Michael Macht and Thomas Ulbrich, for three and a half years. The Saxony native took over as plant manager of the Pekan site in Malaysia in August 2016, where he was responsible for production of the Passat, Tiguan, Polo, Vento and Jetta. Since August 2020, he has been site manager in Dresden.
About Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH
The founding of Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH in December 1990 marked the launch of an ambitious project by Volkswagen AG to establish a competitive production facility for Volkswagen vehicles and engines in one of the most traditional regions of the German automotive industry. In addition to the temporary use of existing facilities at Zwickau and Chemnitz, which Volkswagen fully modernised, two new manufacturing facilities were built for vehicle and engine production.
The Gläserne Manufaktur (Transparent Factory) in Dresden was inaugurated in 2001. Automobilmanufaktur Dresden GmbH (Gläserne Manufaktur) was merged with Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH in 2014.
Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH now includes the Zwickau vehicle plant, the Chemnitz engine plant and the Transparent Factory in Dresden. Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH has a workforce of around 11,400 employees (including Volkswagen Training Institute). Roughly 98 per cent of the employees have industry-related vocational training, a master craftsman’s certificate or a technical college or university degree. The average age is around 44 years and women currently account for 11 per cent of the workforce.
Dr Stefan Loth is Chair of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH with responsibility for Technology and Logistics. The Management Board also includes Professor Thomas Edig (Human Resources and Organisation) and Karen Kutzner (Finance & Controlling).