A Successful Launch to Tiguan Production at the Wolfsburg Plant
Everything ran smoothly and perfectly according to plan. The new line for production of the second-generation Tiguan was installed before the start of the year, running in parallel to the production line for its predecessor. The compact SUV's successor is set to continue the success story and take over as the leading car in its segment.
Since its market launch in 2007, the Tiguan has revolutionised models in the compact SUV segment. It still dominates today, having sold over 2.8 million units. The next generation is now set to continue on its path to success. On 4 January, the starting signal sounded at the "world's biggest vehicle production facility under one roof", as the Wolfsburg factory is known. At the moment, around 1,100 Tiguans roll off the line every day – that is 1.6 million since the model was launched. A brand new production line was set up for the second generation, with preparations starting while production was still running. "It was a major challenge for us. But we managed to complete it perfectly thanks to our team" explains Wolfsburg plant manager Jens Herrmann, before continuing "We worked really hard on the preparations to make sure that the new Tiguan meets our customers' high quality requirements." Herrmann transferred to Wolfsburg from Emden and sees the many tasks involved in production start-up as a huge challenge, particularly when having to manage current production at the same time.
Lots of different divisions and departments have to work together closely and efficiently for every single model, including the Tiguan. Around 1,300 employees works in Tool Construction, for example. One of their responsibilities is to prepare the tools using 13 presses. Five draw presses can each press with a force of 2,100 tonnes. For the add-on parts for the Tiguan, it is around 1,350 tonnes per square metre. However, pressure is not the only thing you need by a long way. The tool construction team are involved in each model's design process right from the start. This is particularly important as both areas are pushing the physical limits when it comes to shaping the panels. Volkswagen's bold characteristic lines and sharp edges are a benchmark in the automotive industry, representing high quality requirements.
Furthermore, more and more robots are being used in the area of tool construction. The aim is to reduce through-put times and increase the attractiveness of the workplace. The master jig and cubing gauges are key tools for quality assurance. They focus particularly on the fine-tuning of a vehicle project before the start of series production, like the new Tiguan in this case. All fits visible from the outside and inside are checked and coordinated. All this effort is particularly beneficial for the customer, as haptics and functionality reflect the high-quality finish. This requires internal departments (Technical Development, Tool Construction and Production) and external parts suppliers to work closely together, because it is also about ensuring efficient installation on the production line.
At its own admission, the Surface Centre is all about the proverbial "love of detail". After all, a perfectly finished surface with perfect paintwork is the first thing the customer sees. Vehicles are selected at random and taken off the production line to undergo a thorough check carried out by specially trained staff. They uncover every tiny irregularity, make any corrections and then return the vehicle back to the production process. Robust, resistant paintwork is equally important. Volkswagen sets high standards in this area. No problems are more common in day-to-day driving than corrosion or stone chippings, particularly in winter. While these checks take a lot of effort, the result for the customers and the ultimate effect they have on the vehicle's value retention means that they pay off.
Like passing over the baton in a 4x100 relay race, the switch-over to the new model will be seamless. The aim is to continue producing the old Tiguan in parallel until the start of 2017 to allow the global market launches to be coordinated properly and seamlessly. Production of the outgoing model will also be extended to the former plant in Osnabrück. While the bodies will still be built in Wolfsburg, assembly and paint processes for around 2,500 units a month will be carried out at Volkswagen Osnabrück. Around €20 million has been invested for this project. Volkswagen is also planning to produce the new Tiguan at other sites away from Wolfsburg. To improve its footing in the American market, the compact off-road vehicle will also roll off the production line in Puebla. The Anting factory belonging to the joint venture Shanghai Volkswagen (SVW) has been selected for China while Kaluga will supply the Russian market.
The Tiguan already celebrated its world première at the 2015 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, where visitors saw one of around 300 pre-series models. Incidentally, the new design is around 50 kilograms lighter and offers maximum luggage space of 1,655 litres plus extensive assist systems. The "Media Control" app allows tablets to become an integral part of the car. The Tiguan will also be available in a number of variants, including a GTE version that was showcased as a prototype at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). This plug-in hybrid is designed to have a sporty level of power at 218 PS. Thanks to its modular matrix strategy, Volkswagen can install a wide array of drive trains on a single production line. The new Tiguan's production concept is therefore one step towards an even more modern form of traditional automotive production. Speaking of tradition: At the end of November 2015, the 43 millionth Volkswagen rolled out of the production halls at the factory on the banks of the Mittelland canal. By the end of 2015, annual production in Wolfsburg was over 815,000 vehicles.