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  6. A happy end in the Autostadt: Trainees drive to the Wörthersee

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A happy end in the Autostadt: Trainees drive to the Wörthersee

Thirteen aspiring young talents from all over Germany worked together to create a special car: the Golf GTE HyRACER. As a team, they learned a lot and developed their technical skills. The extraordinary training project was organized by Volkswagen Group Retail Germany.

May 21, 2020 was highlighted in the calendars of all Wörthersee project members. On this Thursday, the 39th Wörthersee GTI fan convention was to take place in Reifnitz, Austria. Traditionally, world novelties are presented to thousands of fans on a large stage on the shores of Lake Wörthersee. This year the GTE HyRACER belonging to Volkswagen Group Retail Germany (VGRD) was also scheduled to celebrate its premiere there. But then everything turned out differently.

In September 2019, the Wörthersee mission began. In the months leading up to it, trainees from all over Germany could apply for the project. From a large number of applications, 13 trainees were finally selected to convert the Wörthersee vehicle for Volkswagen Group Retail Germany.

The challenge: How can we grow together as a team and create a positive spirit so that we stay motivated for several months? The solution: To begin with, a weekend of Golf TCR racing at the Sachsenring. Here, the racing enthusiasts were able to get to know each other, exchange initial ideas and let themselves be influenced by the good atmosphere.

A few weeks later, the first working meeting in Leipzig took place. Still under the Sachsenring’s positive impressions, the team soon realized that the Golf TCR should serve as a reference for the conversion. The team had a production-ready Golf VII GTE at their disposal. The design, vehicle specifications for the interior and exterior, and further conversion details were decided.

For Lukas Bender, a third-year automotive salesman trainee at Volkswagen Automobile Rhein-Neckar GmbH in Mannheim, it was clear early on that this was going to be a special time: “This project is very special to me because I had always admired the trainees at the Wörthersee who were privileged enough to build such a car. Now to be allowed to be a part of it myself seems almost surreal. Now I’m looking forward to the time of construction with the entire team.”

13 Nachwuchskräfte aus ganz Deutschland haben zusammengearbeitet, um ein besonderes Auto zu bauen: den Golf GTE HyRACER. Im Team haben sie viel gelernt und ihre handwerklichen Fähigkeiten verbessert. Organisiert wurde das außergewöhnliche Ausbildungs-Projekt von der Volkswagen Group Retail Deutschland.

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Happy End in der Autostadt: Auszubildende fahren zum Wörthersee (Available in German only)

At the wheel: Carmen Härter, an automotive business management trainee.

In November 2019, the first week of rebuilding started in Munich. No sooner had they arrived, then it was time for the trainees to get started. The GTE was completely dismantled. Fenders and aprons down, seats, back seats, dashboard, door panels, carpets out, chassis and exhaust system gone. By the end of the first days only the frame of the Golf GTE was left.

Carmen Härter, a third-year automotive business management trainee at Auto & Service PIA GmbH in Weilheim and one of three young women in the team, went into the project with total enthusiasm: “It means a lot to me to participate in this project. It presents me with new challenges and brings me many new experiences. As a trained automotive mechatronic engineer, it is exciting to convert and present a vehicle in this way. It fascinates me how a very young team can work towards the same goal.”

At the presentation: Konstantinos Tsigaloglou, budding car body and vehicle construction mechanic.

In four further conversion phases, the trainees were able to gain a lot of experience, they were allowed to look behind the scenes at parts suppliers and also to do some work themselves. For example, they assembled the sports chassis themselves, welded the sports exhaust system together and covered the interior parts with Alcantara. The team was on the right track.

In mid-March 2020, the shock occurred: Due to corona restrictions, the GTI Wörthersee meeting was canceled. A decisive blow for the team. They were able to breathe a sigh of relief however when the VGRD management signaled that the trainee project would, in any case, be completed. After weeks of uncertainty, a ray of hope: The team was allowed to present its vehicle on a large stage at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, almost exactly one year after the 13 trainees had met. “We are happy about this opportunity,” says Denis Anic, Head of Principles and Communication at Volkswagen Group Retail Germany and the team’s project manager.

A successful day: while still at the Autostadt, the trainees received an invitation to Wörthersee 2021.

The apprentices presented the GTE HyRACER in front of Jürgen Stackmann, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand responsible for Sales, and Bernd Osterloh, Chairman of the General and Group Works Council, as well as other invited guests and representatives of the press. The reactions to the car were consistently positive. During the presentation the invitation for the upcoming GTI meeting 2021 followed – a happy end in the Autostadt.

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