Five fascinating reasons to pay a visit to Wolfsburg, Volkswagen’s headquarters and main factory
Wolfsburg, Germany – There are car towns all over the world – cities made by the industry that has allowed them to grow and prosper, like Detroit (GM), Munich (BMW), Stuttgart (Porsche, Mercedes-Benz) and Toyota City (uhh, Toyota). Wolfsburg, where Volkswagen’s headquarters and main factory, is like many other car towns, an interesting place to visit if you’re anywhere near the Eastern part of Germany and well worth a day, or two, to explore and learn more about. Here are five reasons why.
1. It’s freakin’ huge…
VW was arguably the largest carmaker in the world in 2016, so it’s no surprise the main plant is also the biggest in the world as well at 6.5 square kilometres area, it’s bigger than Marine Parade Town. More than half of Wolfsburg’s 125,000 people are employed by VW, with 70,000 workers at the factory churning out 3,800 cars a day in three, eight-hour, round-the-clock shifts. The plant is so big it has 70km of its own rail system and 70km of its own roads. The new Mark 7.5 Volkswagen Golf, Golf Sporstvan, Touran (a new TDI version just launched for Singapore) and Tiguan are produced on-site, and you can watch it happen with guided tram tours of the factory.
2. …And it’s a huge family attraction
The Autostadt is a visitor attraction built into the grounds of the factory and features a huge range of activities, tickets are only EUR15 per day, for adults. It has 10 restaurants, two cinemas and eight brand pavilions, each with presentations and models dedicated to the Volkswagen Group’s individual brands. Lamborghini’s pavilion, for instance, has an Aventador mounted on its side. Visitors can take a tour of the factory in an automated tram, test drive EVs and off-road vehicles on miniature test tracks, visit the car tower and museum (see below), and more.
3. There’s a super-cool car delivery system
Autostadt features two car towers, which are temporary storage and display for over 400 vehicles, and they are amongst the largest in the world. The 60-metre tall towers are connected directly the the VW factory and are delivered by an automatic trolley/lift system to lucky owners who choose to pickup their brand new VWs from Wolfsburg itself – with zero km on the odometer thanks to the delivery system. Visitors can also take a trip up these towers in a special panoramic lift and feel like Tom Cruise, as the car tower scene in Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol was modelled on these towers, although not filmed there.
4. And a superb car museum
On the show grounds is VW’s car museum, the Zeithaus, with both a permanent and curated collections for car fans to catch an eyeball-full of – many of the displays don’t feature barriers, which makes for superb up-close photography. While VW Group brands are often featured, there are also models and makes from all over (time and place), which makes the Zeithaus well worth an hour or two to pore over.
5. It’s full of wildlife
While it sounds weird to say this about an industrial site, the Autostadt and much of Wolfsburg isn’t as grimy industrial as many car towns are. The pavilions are situated in well-kept park like surroundings with lakes and a man-made canal (you can take a canal boat ride too) that has huge carp and water fowl. A family of nutria has even made their home amongst the pavilions, which in wintertime are turned into a winter market and the lakes become ice-skating rinks.