10 years ago, VW started building a new, state of the art manufacturing facility to build the Phaeton. That car was to be cpmpany chairman Ferndinand Piech’s crowning achievement. He dearly wanted Volkswagen to have an überwagen, a sumptuous, top of the line luxury sedan that was the equal of anything Mercedes or BMW had to offer. The Phaeton would be fitted with the insanely complex W 12 engine that powered the Bugatti Veyron.
Dresden is symbolic for Germans. It was once the heart of the nation’s manufacturing industry and built much of the hardware that enabled Hitler’s war machine. The Allies singled it out for special attention, pulverizing it with wave after wave of bombing missions. When hostilities ended, there was literally nothing left of Dresden. After the war, it slipped behind the Iron Curtain, where it languished until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. Piech’s dream was to use the new factory to celebrate the emergence of Dresden as a manufacturing center once again.
Peich is also the man who shoved the idea of superior Volkswagen diesel engine technology down the throats of his senior managers. All the financial pain the company is suffering at the moment can be attributed to his inflexible, autocratic management style. His idea for the Phaeton didn’t fare much better. In the end, people who wanted an S Class or a 7 Series chose not to spend their money on a car with the VW logo on the hood, regardless of how many cylinders it had. Sales started slowly and went downhill from their.
18 months ago, VW said it would reconfigure the Phaeton as an all electric car to compete with the Tesla Model S. When that idea proved too costly, production of the Phaeton quietly ended, leaving Volkswagen’s lovely new factory with nothing to do.
Now, the company has re-purposed the Dresden factory as a showcase for its vision of the future of the automobile. Volkswagen calls it the Transparent Factory. It has 50 learning stations that educate visitors about the history of Volkswagen and its path to tomorrow. That focus is on electric propulsion, autonomous driving systems, and connected car technology.
“After closing for 10 days to carry out the necessary modifications, the Transparent Factory in Dresden has opened its doors…as a new showcase for the Volkswagen brand, focused on electric mobility and digitalization. Around 50 interactive exhibits and vehicles allow visitors to experience future mobility first hand in a fun and informative environment. The highlight for visitors is a half-hour test drive with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The test drive is included in the ticket price for the Transparent Factory and, if pre-booked, is also offered on Sundays.”
The factory also puts the spotlight on one of its best looking plug-in hybrid concepts — the Sport Coupé Concept GTE that was introduced at the Geneva auto show last year. VW says the Transparent Factory will be used for small scale assembly of some premium electric vehicles in the future. If you find yourself in Dresden any time soon, a stop at the Transparent Factory should be on your “to do” list.
Source: Inside EVs