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  6. Best Man at His e-Car’s Wedding

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Best Man at His e-Car’s Wedding

It is environmentally friendly and economical, the e-Golf*. The Gläserne Manufaktur in Dresden is now offering customers a special look behind the scenes. Sven Zeuke did more than just watch how his car was made.

The Gläserne Manufaktur offers e-Golf* customers the chance to observe the assembly of their own car firsthand … and even help out themselves.


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Note in accordance with Directive 1999/94/EC in its currently applicable version: Further information on official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the EU guide "Information on the fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and energy consumption of new cars", which is available free of charge at all sales dealerships, from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Straße 1, D-73760 Ostfildern, Germany and at www.dat.de.


*e-Golf: Power consumption in kWh/100 km: 14.1 (17-inch) – 13.2 (16-inch) (combined); CO₂ emissions in g/km: 0 (combined); efficiency class: A+

Gläserne Manufaktur Dresden | Build your own e-Golf

Twelve minutes are allotted for the task, and 30 bolts are needed to complete it. It is the “marriage” of the drivetrain and the chassis. It is 3:56 in the afternoon in Dresden. Best man Sven Zeuke presses the start button. The two main parts of the car are bolted together in a fully automated process. It might not be as romantic as a ceremony at an altar, but it is still quite exciting.

Sven Zeuke (right) and a production specialist examine Sven’s work on the radiator grill.

Sven Zeuke, a 49-year-old industrial electronics engineer from the Rhineland, stands in the Gläserne Manufaktur. He spent the night traveling across Germany to be present for the production of his e-Golf.* “I set off right after watching Tatort,” he says, referring to the popular Sunday evening TV crime series. “I took the train from Waldbröl to Siegen, and then the bus.” He had originally made different travel plans, but had to change them at the last moment. “The bus was the only way to get here on time.” He arrived in Dresden at 6:24 in the morning. In excellent spirits. “I can really recommend the bus,” he says. “But don’t expect to get much sleep.”

Welcome to the world of e-mobility

Having arrived at the Gläserne Manufaktur, Zeuke is now sitting in the room known as the atelier. It houses the customer reception area, and has a panoramic view out over the Großer Garten, a large park in the middle of Dresden. Zeuke sits on a semicircular gray sofa with a high back. A video runs on a screen across from him, with images of what he can expect to see today. A small breakfast waits on the table. Zeuke looks tired but happy. His own personal tour with product expert Ronny Freudenberg will soon begin.

The “e-Golf Production Tracking” experience is the latest package on offer from the Gläserne Manufaktur. Customers can book it when they buy an e-Golf. Then, like Sven Zeuke, they won’t just be able to watch how their e-Golf is made but can also do a little of the assembly work themselves. Of course Zeuke will receive expert supervision, even though as a process engineer, he himself is very familiar with electric cars. “I can show Volkswagen how to make the e-Golf even better,” he says with a smile.

Sven Zeuke’s e-Golf waits for its owner in the production hall.

But they’re not quite ready for him yet, so it’s a good moment to ask an important question: Why are you doing this, Mr. Zeuke? His answer is simple: “How often do you get the chance to witness the production of your own car – and even be allowed to assemble part of it yourself?” Is he excited? Zeuke shakes his head. “For me a car is primarily a means to an end,” he says. Really? You weren’t looking forward to this? “Of course I was. It’s also the first time I get to see the color I chose.” He’s especially looking forward to the marriage.

“After all, it’s quite a highlight to witness the union of the drivetrain and the chassis.”

Sven Zeuke

Tour of the production hall

Sven Zeuke (left) and Ronny Freudenberg (right) inspect an e-Golf chassis.

The tour starts. The production line runs through the middle of a hall flooded with natural light. Cordless screwdrivers hum while driverless transport systems deliver components. Gripper arms hold car bodies as they hover over the heads of workers in white overalls. The assembly team makes 72 cars a day, in two shifts. Last year the Gläserne Manufaktur set a new production record, with 13,735 e-Golfs.

Yet the Gläserne Manufaktur is more than just a production site for the e-Golf. Over the past two years it has become a window into e-mobility and digitalization at Volkswagen. Its name should be understood literally, but not just with reference to the architecture. Visitors can not only observe electric mobility and the digital transformation taking place in the automotive industry here, but also experience it firsthand. More interactive exhibits are constantly being added – like the SEDRIC, a self-driving concept car that arrived in early February. The Gläserne Manufaktur is now also a test lab for innovations, where software developers work on future-oriented mobility solutions, and specialists experiment with robots.

Sven Zeuke runs a hoist under expert supervision.

The chassis of Zeuke’s e-Golf glides into the production hall. It has an Atlantic Blue Metallic paint job. The future owner watches in rapt attention as a hoist brings the instrument panel into position. He is instructed how to screw it on and proceeds to do so. He then uses the joystick himself to move the hoist back. Suddenly there is a hissing sound as air escapes through the valves. Zeuke is not disturbed in the slightest, and is clearly enjoying himself. He carefully observes how the hoist follows the joystick’s commands. 

Zeuke is a fan of electric cars. His first encounter with an e-Golf was back in 2016. “I did a test drive with an earlier model,” he says. “The car had a smaller battery at the time.” But then a model arrived with a considerably longer range. “Everyone was talking about the exchange incentive,” he recalls. So he arranged to take another test drive. “The suspension is good,” he notes. “I also want to be able to sit comfortably and enjoy myself when driving on country roads.”

Experts exchange notes

After lunch the customer and the product expert inspect a finished e-Golf. They talk about how the pump for the heating and air-conditioning system works, and what share of the power it consumes in summer and winter. “Most customers ask about things like the range and the charging infrastructure,” says Freudenberg. But today is different. “Mr. Zeuke knows a lot about these cars,” says the product expert. “It’s a pleasure to exchange ideas with him at this level.”

After lunch the customer and the product expert inspect a finished e-Golf. They talk about how the pump for the heating and air-conditioning system works, and what share of the power it consumes in summer and winter. “Most customers ask about things like the range and the charging infrastructure,” says Freudenberg. But today is different. “Mr. Zeuke knows a lot about these cars,” says the product expert. “It’s a pleasure to exchange ideas with him at this level.”

As for Zeuke, he is convinced that “the path Volkswagen is taking in e-mobility is the one that will meet our everyday driving needs over the next decade.” And what does he have to say about the range and charging infrastructure? “I usually drive short distances, so the battery size is not that crucial.” He’s more interested in having a reliable infrastructure. “I’d prefer to charge the car at the place where I’m going, instead of having to drive to a place that has a charging station,” he says. In his opinion infrastructure is currently one of the biggest challenges.

Finally the moment arrives. The second station. The marriage. Zeuke’s car body sits enthroned above the hardwood floor made of Canadian sycamore. A driverless transport system delivers the drivetrain that will be bolted to the chassis. After the union, the line moves on. Ten more bolts will be used in the next production step. This is the 45th car so far today, and 27 more will follow.

Zeuke has many reasons to buy an electric car. “We have our own solar panels,” he says. “What could be better than using your own surplus power for your car?” Another reason is the wish to avoid being dependent on gas prices. He usually only drives short distances anyway, and calls the car a “taxi for the kids.” He also takes “an occasional trip to Cologne,” which clocks about 100 kilometers. “And I want to do my part for the environment,” he adds.

Until we meet again

Sven Zeuke screws on his e-Golf’s radiator grill.

The tour is nearing its end. At the third and final station, Zeuke is allowed to screw on the radiator grill. “Together with the logo it’s part of the e-Golf’s face,” says Ronny Freudenberg. Zeuke is feeling increasingly at home in a world that is generally closed to customers. He views a selection of cordless screwdrivers. They all have different torques, and each is used for a different component. Colored dots indicate the one for the underbody and another for the radiator grill. “I wouldn’t mind having these tools at home,” says Zeuke and laughs. After screwing on the radiator grill, he gently runs his fingers over the Volkswagen logo.

Zeuke is impressed by the factory – and delighted with his e-Golf.* Now, Mr. Zeuke – is your car still just a means to an end? “Yes, it is, but I’ve also become attached to it,” he says and gazes around the brightly lit production hall one more time as he prepares to leave. In two or three weeks, he will pick up his e-Golf at the dealership.

*e-Golf: Power consumption in kWh/100 km: 14.1 (17-inch) – 13.2 (16-inch) (combined); CO₂ emissions in g/km: 0 (combined); efficiency class: A+