The Volkswagen plant in Dresden is being developed into the Center of Future Mobility, an innovative showcase of e-mobility and digitalization of the Volkswagen brand. Since May 2018, 74 e-Golf have been produced here every day,
The electric Golf is assembled in two shifts. Visitors to the plant receive an interesting glimpse of the future of the automobile. During a 75-minute tour, they can see how Volkswagen produces its electric Golf. In the late fall of 2020, production will be changed over to the all-electric ID.3, which is also being produced at Zwickau.
The highlight of the visit is a free-of-charge test drive (30 minutes) through Dresden with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Since January 2019, customers have been able to come very close to the e-Golf they have ordered during the production process. At the Transparent Factory in Dresden, they can accompany their vehicle for part of the way along the production line. At three stations, they can even lend a hand themselves with expert instruction by Volkswagen employees.
Dresden’s largest public, solar-powered e-mobility station is located beside 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 digitalization. Since August 2017, six 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. They each receive financial support in the amount of €15,000, IT infrastructure, software, free-of-charge office space, vehicles and access to the Volkswagen expert network. The city of Dresden also provides assistance and finances accommodation for the young entrepreneurs. In March 2018, the Future Mobility Campus was inaugurated. This provides education and training for employees, school classes and external visitors. Currently, 380 people work at the Transparent Factory.
The Volkswagen Phaeton and the Bentley Flying Spur were produced at the Transparent Factory for 14 years up to March 2016. Modifications to the plant for flexible production of various models have been completed. Since April 2017, the new e-Golf, with a range of 231 km in the “Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure” (WLTP), has been assembled at the Dresden plant. In 2019, 16,155 units were produced – the best annual value since the establishment of the facility. As a result of high demand, a second shift for the production of the e-Golf was introduced in May 2018.
Visitors’ Forum and Service
Volkswagen has broken new ground with the Visitors' Forum at the Transparent Factory. At the Forum, visitors and customers can inform themselves about Volkswagen, as well as the topics of e-mobility and digitalization. Visitors can take a close-up view of production as the tour goes directly along the production line. In 2019, 145,700 guests visited the Transparent Factory (+8% compared with 2018). About 7,000 guests took up the offer of a test drive.
Guided tours (8,000 in 2019) are currently offered in more than 10 languages; German, English, Chinese, French, Czech and Polish are especially popular. Guests from 50 countries were welcomed in 2019. There are also special tours for children and tours with special emphases, for example on the environment and architecture. Visitor experience packages including a test drive, a visit to the e-VITRUM restaurant and combined tickets with the Semper Opera House, Dresden Transport Museum or a city tour round off the offering.
More than 25 percent of all visitors come from other countries. In Dresden, customers can take delivery of their e-up!, e-Golf, Passat GTE, Passat Variant GTE, T-Roc, Touareg and Arteon as well as the Tiguan, the Golf saloon and all Passat models – they benefit from an exclusive welcome in a separate part of the Visitors‘ Forum. The actual handing-over of the vehicle is a special experience. In 2020, it is planned to hand more than 2,600 vehicles over to customers here.
Social and cultural commitment
The Transparent Factory is not only a production facility and an industrial employer. With its location in the center 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 Center of Future Mobility, it is a pioneer of e-mobility. The Transparent Factory aims to allow visitors to experience e-mobility and to help shape the mobility future of the city of Dresden with 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 proceeds of these donations 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 fosters education in the field of art and culture. Activities include long-term partnerships with the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the Semper Opera House.
Production 2001 - 2016
From 2001 to 2016, the Phaeton and, temporarily, the Bentley Flying Spur were assembled in Dresden. The e-Golf has been assembled here since 2017. The key element of production is a scaled assembly line. All this line has in common with conventional assembly lines is the phasing of individual assembly procedures, meaning that production is arranged in stages such as engine fitting (marriage) and window fitting. The surface of each of the concentrically designed scaled assembly lines comprises 29 individual segments completely covered in parquetry. It is on these segments that the vehicles to be assembled are placed by adjustable lifters. With the parquetry surface and the clearly arranged assortment of assembly parts in baskets, the factory resembles a craftsman's workshop rather than a conventional vehicle assembly line.
Vehicles are assembled on two levels. The scaled assembly line is served by an electric suspended monorail system used to vertically link the two floors as well as integrating horizontally arranged production processes on each level. This system transports cars between the two floors and to specific assembly stations such as the vehicle fueling station. For this purpose, the entire vehicle is transferred from the upper level through the ceiling of the level below and then lowered by means of a lifter. With the precision-phasing system, the impeccable cleanliness of production areas, a highly trained workforce and permanent monitoring, Volkswagen has achieved the maximum level of manufacturing quality in Dresden. The individually phased production processes have been systematically tailored to the people who perform them. The manipulator, for example, is an assistant on navigable rollers which workers can use to adjust the positioning of large components (e.g. dashboard) to the precise setting (i.e. to the last millimeter) required for installation in the body shell.
With its "Think Blue. Factory." program, the Volkswagen brand set itself clear targets for the environmentally sustainable positioning of all its plants. By 2018, the aim was to reduce the environmental impact of all Volkswagen plants by 25 percent. Specifically, this meant 25 percent lower energy and water consumption, waste volumes and emissions at all plants . The Volkswagen brand already met these environmental targets for 2018 in 2016. This is why the Volkswagen Group set itself a new, ambitious target for reducing environmental impact in 2017. By 2025, vehicles and components are to be produced in a way which is 45 percent more environmentally compatible than in 2010, the reference year of the current environmental program Think Blue. Factory. That represents a further 20 percent reduction in environmental burdens. Volkswagen is therefore well on the way to resource-optimized operations at all the plants of the brand.
Since production started in 2018, e-Golf assembly at the Dresden plant has had a neutral carbon balance. Thanks to the use of Naturstrom®, power supply to the plant is already carbon-neutral, saving some 3,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. In addition, the plant is changing over to a carbon-neutral heat supply. For this purpose, VW Kraftwerk will be co-operating for three years with the South Pole Group (SPG), the world’s largest developer of climate protection programs: the 400 tonnes of the greenhouse gas CO2 produced by heat generation from fossil sources will be compensated for by CO2 reductions in other places.
The planners already paid special attention to environmental protection during the planning of the Transparent Factory. 350 trees were planted at a cost of more than €56,000 and special sodium vapor lamps in the outdoor areas operate in a yellow spectral range that does not disturb insects in the nearby Botanical Gardens. Volkswagen’s commitment to environmental protection also concerns biodiversity. Since May 2019, nine beehives with 50,000 inhabitants each have been installed on the plant site beside the botanical Gardens. These 450,000 bees are cared for by an employee of the Transparent Factory. The honey, about 360 kilograms, is sold at the plant restaurant, e-Vitrum. The depth of the complex is designed to maintain groundwater equilibrium and the sealed surface area, compared with previous development on the site, has been reduced from 6.7 to 4.8 hectares.
Site and architecture
The L-shaped building is located on an 8.3-hectare site on Straßburger Platz, in the immediate vicinity of the Botanical Gardens. Volkswagen's electric Golf1 is produced here on three levels, with a total area of 55,000 square meters behind some 27,500 square meters of windows. The view of the plant from the city is dominated by the fully-glazed building with a length of 140 meters and a height of 20 meters. Even when standing right next to the building, pedestrians and local residents cannot hear any noise from the plant.
The site of the Transparent Factory was already intensively developed in the 19th century. Until the devastation in the Second World War, Straßburger Platz featured the municipal exhibition hall as well as the famous Kugelhaus (globe house), which was already demolished during the “Third Reich”. It was a venue for the presentation of world-class art, culture, horticulture and architecture.
A spherical structure in the new factory reminds visitors of the lost building, providing a bridge to the past. The trademark of the Transparent Factory, visible from some distance, is the 40-meter-high glass tower where completed vehicles are stored prior to collection. From here, via the Piazza and the customers' bridge, owners leave the Transparent Factory with their new vehicles.
The interior of the plant is just as attractive as its external design. Large glazed areas and some 24,000 square meters of parquetry flooring (even in the production area) create a well-lit, relaxed atmosphere reflecting the innovative basic philosophy of a factory based on careful fabrication steps, many of them involving hand-crafting, as a supplement to industrial production processes.
About Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH
The founding of Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH in December 1990 marked the launch of an ambitious project by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft 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 utilization of existing facilities at Zwickau and Chemnitz, which Volkswagen fully modernized, two new manufacturing facilities were built for vehicle and engine production. The Transparent Factory in Dresden was inaugurated in 2001 and Automobilmanufaktur Dresden GmbH merged with Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH in 2014.
Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH has three production facilities: a vehicle plant at Zwickau, an engine plant at Chemnitz and the Transparent Factory in Dresden. Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH has a workforce of about 10,300 people (including employees of the Volkswagen Training Institute). Some 98 per cent of the highly qualified workforce have either completed vocational training in a specialized field, are certified master craftsmen, or hold a degree. The average age of the employees is about 44 years and women account for 11 percent of the workforce. Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand responsible for E-Mobility, is Speaker of the Management Board ofVolkswagen Sachsen GmbH. The Management Board also includes Matthias Bursig (Finance and Controlling), Dirk Coers (HR and Organization), and Reinhard de Vries (Technology and Logistics).