We had planned to go and visit the VW AutoStradt and once we had completed the factory tour at 1 pm, we would leave and get on our way again. However, it was such an interesting place, we ended up staying all day until 11 pm- so the schedule is shot to pieces again!!
Nuala said it was ok for us to spend the day there as it was an early birthday present to me (before you all go rushing to wish me a happy birthday it’s not until next Monday). What the VW management have done is turned a visit to a car factory into a full visitor centre experience with a great car museum, food halls, water, light and sound shows, beach bar, interactive museum, separate car showrooms for all their car brands and numerous kids adventure and play areas.
It is tremendous value for money as it only costs €12 to get in and everything is free afterwards (except food and optional ride up on the car stacker). They call the centre AutoStradt which means Car City.
The day started off with a visit to an exhibition on how cars are made and a visit to an interactive environmental exhibition. We then did the factory tour where they bring you by boat to meet a special bus which drives you through part of the factory (final assembly area for Golf cars).
The sides of the bus open fully, so you can see everything, but you are not allowed off the bus – bit like being on a safari! After lunch we visited the car museum (where vintage cars exhibited are in great condition). We then saw some of the car showrooms, where they display their newest models. They have two giant towers to store finished cars in and where cars are picked up by giant forklifts and put in storage bays up to 22 floors high.
They have a passenger pod that replaces a car and the stackers pick up the pod with the people in it and park it on the highest level. Thus, you get a see how exactly the computer controlled storage system works and a birds eye view of the hugh VW factory complex. We finished off the day with dinner and then watched the really impressive sound and light show.
All in all, a very impressive display, of how a large public company can operate. VW management have applied the same world class management system to running the AutoStradt as they have to making cars. This shows in the attention to detail and the seamless way everything worked. We live in a golden age when mankind can produce this type of product and service.
The only worry for me is that the VW Group have gone far beyond their task of producing cars, as there was an exhibition on climate change and how we must change our habits to stop it getting worse. In the main foyer, there was an exhibition on all the places in the world where true democracy does not operate and where people are starving or are refugees, VW trying to educate us. VW seems to operate to the highest moral, environmental and ethical standards but in the end of the day, it’s a company and not our elected governments. How can a government supervise them when they are superior managers to our governments?