Volkswagen aims to be the leading provider of electric vehicles by 2025. At the Transparent Factory in Dresden, visitors can already experience the e-mobility lifestyle for themselves.
No fence, no exclusion area, no bars – instead, Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Dresden is surrounded by greenery. Passers-by are able to watch vehicle production through the building’s continuous glass façade. It is not a coincidence that the factory is so transparent and accessible: “We explicitly welcome people to enter and visit the factory. People need to be able to experience e-mobility,” says Lars Dittert, Volkswagen factory manager in Dresden.
The Transparent Factory in Dresden has become a symbol for the Volkswagen Group strategy TOGETHER 2025: Where once the high-end Phaeton was manufactured by hand, now the emission-free e-Golf rolls off the assembly line. It is one of the new flagships of the Group’s electric offensive: By 2025, Volkswagen aims to be the leading provider of electric vehicles and sell two to three million electric vehicles annually.
In Dresden, the emission-free future is underway. 130 technicians assemble the new e-Golf models at the Transparent Factory – by hand. They install control units, cockpits, seats as well as doors, and ensure that the wiring is correct. Chassis, batteries and vehicle parts are delivered, while complete assembly is carried out in Dresden.
What is remarkable is that everything is very clean and quiet, just as the e-Golf itself. Production technicians are dressed in white work clothes; the floor is light beige made of Canadian maple floorboards. Only every now and then do you hear light pounding. Occasionally, driverless transport systems even glide noiselessly through the production hall delivering new parts.
Visitors can observe all of this during a 75-minute long guided tour through the production area – step by step, bolt by bolt. They are allowed to get up to about a meter and a half close to the vehicle production as there is also no exclusion area there. There is no need to make a reservation in advance. Visitors can simply check in at the entrance and book one of the hourly tours that leave on the hour.
This experience is very popular with visitors. On average, 400 visitors take a tour of the factory every day and about a third of them come from outside Germany. And that is no surprise: Factory tours are offered in 14 languages.
“The time is right for the breakthrough of electric cars. And Volkswagen will be the pioneer of the volume market. If any automobile manufacturer is able to service the broader market well, it is Volkswagen.”
What’s more, electric vehicles stand ready on the terrace in front of the factory for a test drive. Guided by staff, the 15-minute test drive takes you around the large garden once. A 30-minute test drive can also be booked at short notice on site. If you have a bit more time, with the 60-minute tour, you can also discover the sights of Dresden with the e-Golf or the Passat GTE.
The automobile manufacturer regards itself as part of the city of Dresden. If at first it was considered surprising that the company wanted to move to the middle of the city – close to the Church of our Lady and the famous old town – this sentiment has now changed. The factory is clean and obtains 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. High emission production steps such as painting large surfaces and welding are not carried out in the city so that there is no harm to the environment or residents. Instead, Volkswagen supports the local culture and opens its doors for public concerts and picnics.
The office of the factory manager, Lars Dittert, is also made of glass. Dittert believes “the time is right for the breakthrough of electric cars. And Volkswagen will be the pioneer of the volume market. If any automobile manufacturer is able to service the broader market well, it is Volkswagen.”
The e-Golf is ideal for the city and medium-length trips, says Dittert. With a range of up to 300 kilometers, long distances are also quite feasible. “With the new rapid charging technology, the battery can now even be almost completely recharged within 40 minutes.” What’s more, the e-Golf has very low energy consumption with 12.7kWh/100km.
These are attributes that also convince customers. According to the latest August statistics of the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, the e-Golf is now the most registered vehicle in Germany. In Norway, it also ranks at the top in terms of sales.
“The availability of sufficient charging stations is certainly still a challenge. However, as sales of electric vehicles increase, the availability of charging stations will also quickly catch up,” says Lars Dittert. Even so, in Dresden we are also working on the answer to the question of how faster progress can be made in setting up charging stations. In our own incubator, we are supporting six start-ups that were selected during a multi-stage process. LoyalGo, a start-up, was also selected, which aims to make purchasing electric charging stations more attractive for small dealers. This will allow several dealers to be able to collectively buy an electric charging column and then use it for advertising space.
“The Dresden site is prepared for the future.”
In Dresden, where the Transparent Factory is located, there are already 60 charging stations. However, this number is expected to quadruple in the foreseeable future. The city has partnered with Volkswagen in electric mobility and plans to progressively change over its fleet of vehicles to electric cars. VW has won a tender for this project. “We are very pleased to be such good partners with the city of Dresden,” says Dittert.
Volkswagen is involved in the city in other ways, too. The automobile manufacturer has already launched various apps tailored to the city of Dresden. One app serves as a digital parking meter, another calculates the quickest means of transport for distances in the city and determines the number of vacant parking spaces in parking garages in real time.
But the automobile manufacturer does not intend to now sit back and rest. “We recommend our location for the production of new e-models,” says Lars Dittert. As the competence center for e-mobility, the location has a wealth of knowledge in this area. What’s more, Dresden is centrally located in the heart of Europe, and is one of the few cities in Germany that has the status of the urban test site for autonomous driving. “The Dresden site is prepared for the future,” says Dittert.
e-Golf: Consumption Electric power in kWh/100km: 12.7 (Combined) CO2 emissions, g/km: 0 (combined) Efficiency Class: A+.
Passat GTE - Fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 1.8 – 1.7; power consumption in kWh/100 km: combined 13.1 -12.5; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 40-38; efficiency class: A+.