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    Thread: A Photo Tour of the Transparent Factory in Dresden [TOC, Photos done]

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    1. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-17-2005 10:30 AM #1
      I have visited the Phaeton assembly plant in Dresden several times, and thoroughly enjoyed each visit. The building and grounds are beautiful, and the whole process of both making and selling Phaetons is totally different than that for any other car in the world.

      I have put together some photos, to provide a bit of a 'tour' for folks who have not yet been to Dresden. I hope you find them informative. If you would like to visit the factory, they are very much 'visitor oriented' - the factory is open about 10 to 12 hours a day for visitors, and there are two possible ways to make a tour:

      1) For the general public - anyone who is interested in visiting, kids, adults, whomever: There are both guided and self-guided tours available almost every day. There are interpretive exhibits, partially assembled Phaeton components and cutaway models, and even a 6 axis full motion W12 simulator, complete with a visual system, to allow you to 'test drive' a W12 on the autobahn at any speed up to the full capability of the Phaeton. Allow about 4 hours for the visit.

      2) For prospective Phaeton purchasers: Contact the reception desk of the factory ahead of time, and make an appointment. A customer service representative will take you on a tour, and assist you in choosing colours and options for your Phaeton. Either before or after, you can browse through the public tour areas mentioned previously. Allow a full day.

      The factory is located right in the heart of downtown Dresden, only about a 15 minute walk from the main square (the Church of Our Lady, or Frauenkirche). It is well served by the city public transit system, which stops right at the door. The same tram lines that transport passengers also bring the various Phaeton components to the factory for assembly.

      There are a number of very nice hotels quite close-by to choose from, personally, I prefer the Hilton, because of its delightful location right beside the Frauenkirche. The factory has its own website, GLÄSERNE MANUFAKTUR DRESDEN. Click on the little Union Jack flag in the lower left of the main page if you want to view the site in English. In the meantime - here are some photos that will give you an orientation to the Phaeton build process.

      Michael

      The Factory Itself
      The factory is located directly beside the Dresden botanical garden, and VW has taken care to make sure the landscaping compliments the park beside it.

      The glass building is especially attractive at dusk.

      The factory is located at the intersection of Lennéstrasse and Stübelallee, and there is passenger tram service on both of these streets. If you walk in a north-west direction along Stübelallee for one mile, you will be right in the heart of the old city of Dresden. The name of Stübelallee changes several times as you walk along, but it is obvious that it is the same big, wide promenade.

      But, that was not a normal passenger tram...
      The tram in the photo above is actually the Volkswagen tram that brings parts from the logistics facility to the Transparent Factory. It looks quite a bit like a normal Dresden tram-car, but if you look at the side of it, you can see that it is a 'freighter', not a passenger tram.

      The next two photos give you an idea of the architecture of the building. Yes, it is this clean, every day.

      Arrival of the carosserie (body-structure)
      The carosserie is built in Zwickau, about 60 miles from Dresden, in the same building as the Bentley Continental GT. It is painted there, and then transported to Dresden. This is more or less what it looks like when it arrives, before Phaeton assembly begins.

      The fuselage-stuffing process
      Each Phaeton is individually hand built. Sometimes two people work on the car at once, but more often, one person works by him or herself. Because each Phaeton is unique, all the parts and components needed to construct that specific car are picked ahead of time in the logistics center, and loaded onto storage modules. You can see two storage modules, there is one in front and one behind each car. The small square station in the right foreground contains specialized tools that are used to assemble the vehicle at that particular stage of its assembly.

      Another view of the work area
      The word 'assembly line' really doesn't seem to fit here, but there is a moving line. You can see the two tiny seams in the floor, on either side of the car. The portion of the floor inside those seams moves in a continuous loop throughout the work area. It moves very slowly, about the same speed as a revolving restaurant. You don't really notice the movement when you are inside the factory. The semi-circular arcs in the floor sections allow the entire section to slowly swivel to turn a corner.

      Early in the 'stuffing' process.
      This is a photo of a Klavierlack Black Phaeton, quite early in the build process. Some components have been installed, but work on the interior trim has not started. The running gear has not yet been installed.

      Lifting the Phaeton
      At some stages of the build process, it is easier to do the work if the car can be lifted up and moved around as needed. The overhead cranes lift the car up, using the same 4 points that the car normally rests on, and the employee can then move the vehicle around as he or she wants. The working environment in this assembly plant has been very carefully thought out - there is no comparison with other car manufacturing facilities.

      Mating the body-structure and the running gear.
      Once all the wiring, electronic components, and other necessary parts are installed into the carosserie, it is then time to mate the body-structure with the running gear. The running gear is also assembled by hand, and brought to the main production area by an elevator. Little magnetic sensors beneath the wood floor guide the cart that contains the running gear to the correct position beside the overhead crane.

      A different view of this work area:

      Aligning the carosserie and the running gear
      This is the first stage of the mating process - to make sure everything is correctly lined up.

      The carosserie is lowered to a comfortable working height
      Note that the little electrically powered cart that was holding the running gear in the photo above has now moved out of the way. These carts are quite sophisticated, and move to the correct locations on their own, once the craftspeople are finished with them and initiate the movement process.

      Attaching and connecting different parts
      Now you can see the advantage of being able to keep the body-structure well above the floor.

      The running gear then moves up, once everything is aligned.
      (Bet you thought the car was going to move down, right?)

      After the mating process
      The Phaeton is starting to look a bit more like a finished car. The next major work will be installing the interior trim.

      Moving to the next assembly area
      Once the Phaeton is on the overhead crane assembly, it makes sense to leave it there until all the required work on the underside of the car has been completed. Once that is done, it will be placed back onto a workstand at surface level, as shown in the photos of the beginning of the process.

      Final Visual Inspection
      The interior has been installed, fluids added to the car, and the wheels and tires installed. The Phaeton is now moved into the light tunnel for a very thorough visual inspection. The next process after this will be testing the car, on both dynamometers and on the test-track underneath the factory.

      And into the storage tower
      Phaetons that are built for customers who plan to pick their car up at the factory are placed into the glass storage tower after they have been built, and the complete pre-delivery inspection process is completed. Phaetons that will be shipped overseas go to a different area, to be wrapped in protective packaging. The little courtyard area in the left foreground is part of the public area of the factory. Directly behind it, you can see the assembly areas.

      Last edited by PanEuropean; 04-15-2012 at 04:52 AM.

    2. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-17-2005 10:43 AM #2
      There are some additional photos of the Transparent Factory in these threads (discussions) here on the VW Vortex Phaeton forum:

      VW Individual Phaeton Interiors - some photos
      front quarter panel and ...
      Glass Factory in Dresden invaded by Space Aliens...

      and, for those of you who may be new to our forum and are interested in learning more about this wonderful car, Welcome! We are a group of Phaeton owners who use this forum to discuss our common interest. We have put together a 'Table of Contents' that provides links to additional photos and discussion about the Phaeton - to view the table of contents, just click here: Phaeton Forum 'Table of Contents' (FAQ by Category). We welcome new members - the only requirement for membership is an interest in the Phaeton - and we won't send you any junk mail, or give your personal details or email address to anyone else.

      Michael
      Phaeton Forum Moderator


      Modified by PanEuropean at 3:43 AM 12-22-2005


    3. 02-17-2005 10:57 AM #3
      Absolutely phenomenal post Michael. Thanks for those pictures. I certainly believe we own the best built cars in the world.
      VW is doing it right.

      David


    4. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-17-2005 11:19 AM #4
      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Credit for all the photos goes to the VW media department at the Transparent Factory.

      For the information of those who plan to visit the Transparent Factory in Dresden, below are the hours of operation, and the contact numbers. The staff at the Transparent Factory welcome visitors 7 days a week, just about every day of the year. Children are welcome without age restrictions, and no advance reservation for the tour is required.

      Last edited by PanEuropean; 10-06-2012 at 01:10 AM.

    5. Member cxg231's Avatar
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      02-18-2005 03:27 PM #5
      Michael: Thank you for all of the time and obvious care that you have put into this post, it is easily the most impressive post that I have ever seen on the Vortex.

      Forget the automobiles, that factory has got to be the most impressive piece of German engineering that I have ever seen. The architect and engineers should be very pround of the final result.

      I also think that Volkswagen should be commended for investing what had to be a massive sum of money into the former East Germany.

      Thanks again for a great post.

      Chris


    6. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-19-2005 01:08 AM #6
      Thanks Chris, very kind of you to say that. I had fun putting the post together. There is still quite a big gap in the photo-process, I have not yet found a good picture that shows the car in the final testing area, after the interior (seating, etc.) has been installed, but before it goes into the light tunnel. As I mentioned earlier, all the photos are courtesy of the VW media staff in Dresden, perhaps they thought that a picture of a Phaeton in final test - with zillions of cables connected to it, hoses coming out from it, etc. might give people the wrong impression, as if the car was on life support, perhaps.

      Below is a photo that a Customer Manager took of forum member David Duty's car, once it was fully built, but just before it went into the final test and acceptance area.

      Almost 100% built, but waiting for final testing and quality control to be conducted
      The cable coming out from the back supplies positive DC voltage to the car, to avoid depleting the batteries during the production process. The A4 size paper label behind the passenger door identifies this car as a "VW Individual" special order car.

      Last edited by PanEuropean; 10-06-2012 at 01:11 AM.

    7. 02-19-2005 01:40 AM #7
      Michael,
      Great post! Thank you for these awesome photos.

      As a former car designer from Detroit, I can really appreciate the discipline and passion that went into the development of this vehicle. The procurement scope for this program is simply astonishing!! This glass factory is awe inspiring!

      In my opinion. German engineering is all about execution, they have executed extremely well on this manufacturing facility. Hats off to the VW production engineering group!

      Just out of my own curiosity, do they have classical music playing in the background on the assembly line?

      Thanks,

      Robin


    8. 02-19-2005 01:54 AM #8
      wow, thanks for posting...as usual your posts are well laid out and informative. Makes me lust after a Phaeton again.....

    9. 02-19-2005 05:28 PM #9
      Nice post Michael. the photo tour was great. The factory is beautiful.

    10. Member Cubster's Avatar
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      02-19-2005 07:35 PM #10
      Wow. Although the Phaeton is beyond my means it's very easy to see why people are drawn to them. The assembly area is cleaner than most hospitals and downright incredible to see. I think by seeing that this is truly a handbuilt car the naysayers will respect the value. Is the A8 built at a similar facility?

    11. 02-19-2005 08:42 PM #11
      Your sales professional has access via an internal VW site to show Phaeton customers a short video about Transparent Factory in Dresden. Great stuff.

      After looking at Michael's photos, my only thought was that we all need to install Canadian Maple floors in our garages so the Phaeton feels at home


    12. Member DCubed's Avatar
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      02-19-2005 10:09 PM #12
      Definately,

      Sorry I havent been around much guys, but Michael, that is damn good work, again you never cease to amaze me. makes me want to hop in a plane and fly there to go see it in person...wait, I should be in Greece for my honeymoon this fall....hmmm, possible "business trip" write off, I might have to make this one work!

      Thanks Michael.


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    13. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-19-2005 10:17 PM #13
      Quote, originally posted by PhaetonChix »
      ...we all need to install Canadian Maple floors in our garages so the Phaeton feels at home...

      For sure. It is interesting to note that Canadian Maple was chosen for the solid wood floors of the Glass Factory in part for technical reasons: It is one of very few woods that meet the very strict fire regulations governing use of wood in manufacturing facilities. It's also worth noting that the floors are solid maple, not maple veneer.

      Michael


    14. 02-21-2005 04:51 PM #14
      Thanks for the report - that's one pretty impressive car factory!

    15. 02-24-2005 06:24 PM #15
      Very impressive. The pictures of the assembly process with the men wearing all white reminds me of a VW advertisment a few years ago...

    16. 06-12-2005 10:14 AM #16
      Hello,

      I wanted to give everyone a brief update of my trip to the factory for a private tour that was arranged by VWofA.

      Background: I was in the process of buying (or trying to buy) a Phaeton a few months ago. I wanted a four seat V8 with all of the options in Black with a Tan interior. My dealer was able to find one on a boat that was already on the way and so I started the process of getting financing numbers, etc. Needless to say, VWofA or the dealer (could not figure out who) did not want to switch the 17" wheels for the no-cost 18" - so the deal was lost.

      In the meanwhile, I googled looking for more information about the car and found VWVortex. My obession became complete ;-). I spent the next few weeks posting questions, reading stories and getting to know more about the car and the passion that the car seems to generate. I am a long time Macintosh user - so I am used to people being so passionate about their choice and not taking the same road as others (I use a Windows machine at work - so before I get everyone enraged with the macintosh people being more passionate ;-)).

      PanEuropean gave me some advice on setting up a trip and since I spend a good amount of time in Europe, I was able to make some changes to my last trip to fly into Frankfurt - from there a quick 5 hour train ride to Dresden.

      Arrival:
      Upon arriving in Dresden at the train station, VW arranged to have a driver waiting for me. I was expecting a Phaeton but instead they had this business limo which looked like a giant minivan. I was a little disappointed at first, but when the driver popped the door with his keyfob and the door rolled back - I was amazed. The first thing that I noticed was that it had four seats in the back - two facing another two. The second thing that I noticed were that they were the same seats as the Phaeton - except in seude. The next thing that I noticed is that it had the same console as the four seat Phaeton. In other words, the interior was amazing. It had buttons for a tray that popped out of the side wall - another button for a drop down LCD (much larger than the headrest one in the Phaeton)... I asked the driver - Billy - how much the van was - and he said something like 120K euro - that would be about 145K here in the states - I can see why they are not selling it here. I don't think that people would spend that much - but if it were the price of the Phaeton ;-). The engine was a V6 - which I thought might be underpowered for a van of that size - but it seemed to work.

      The Factory
      The next morning my wife and I took a taxi over to the factory. Five minutes later, we walked into the lobby and noticed about 30 people waiting to begin a tour. I checked in with the reception and I was escorted upstairs to a waiting room which many will know from this website. The room contained the leather and paint chips and had a computer in which you could drag items under a sensor and the car displayed on the screen would change. Pretty cool stuff.

      It was at this point that I realized that I had a private tour and would not be joining the group. The person from VW who delivered the tour (I have to get her name from her business card) was excellent. She spoke perfect English (which was important because I only know a few words in German - hamburger and frankfurter being the majority of them) and we entered a discussion about the factory and how it was built and what I expected of the tour. After explaining how I would like to be able to order a few individual items - she was suprised that I could not order them directly from the dealer. She showed me a catalog with pictures of the different customizations - including a yellow phaeton with an equally terrible interior - which is nothing to be proud of - except to say that they would do any type of customization.

      We then went downstairs to start the tour. I don't know how to explain this except that the entire factory was quieter than my house is at this moment. I was able to have a conversation the entire time and I was suprised at the lack of noise - almost any noise - in the entire factory.

      The entire assembly line is powered by induction - everything is under the floor - power is supplied by that magnetics. The factory has two robots only - one to put the spare tire wheel well in the trunk and the other to install the windshield. Most of the components are built by subcontracting companies and put together in the factory. The cars arrive already painted with the doors on them. The doors are removed and the car begins the first of four phases of assembly.

      Two hours later... ;-)

      I was amazed. I felt small compared to the brains that assembled this plant - the robots and the building. A few years ago, I was invited to Calfornia to tour the NeXT Computer plant and I left there feeling amazed. Empty mother boards would start at one end of the factory - automated chip inserts would do 200 chips a minute - and a completed machine would exit the other end waiting for the only human to clean and pack the machine. That was a humbling moment - but this was even more so. I watched the two robots for about 10 minutes each - how graceful and exacting they were. It was like a dance - the way that the windshield robot would measure the car - then measure the windshield - apply hot glue to the windshield and insert the windshield.

      After the tour we went to lunch at the resturant in the factory. I invited my tour guide to sit with us - I was very interested to hear more about the factory and VW in general. After a very fancy lunch - the head of the factory came in to have lunch at the next table. My tour guide explained that the man was loved by his workers and I could feel the respect from everyone in the room. It was impressive - and I was impressed. This man controlled the entire factory which was so well run it could have been a clock. Nothing was out of place and it made you believe that the car was not only well made - but it was a more viable answer to the more expensive MB and BMW - because not only was the car less money - it was even better made...

      After lunch (which I was not allowed to pay for - thanks VW ;-)), we went upstairs back to the room to spec out my car. I added all of the options that I wanted including the better leather chairs (we only get the preforated) and wood steering wheel - I was ready to go back to the hotel to pack up my things for the train ride back to Frankfurt. The printer was not working and I did not get my print out - with my order codes (which I am going to try to order here in the US.)

      The one thing that I did not mention above is that when I first arrived - I was talking to the tour guide (I promise to get her name here - I have to unpack my luggage first) is that we were talking about the car and the community on the internet - specifically VWVortex. PanEuropean's name came up as one of the most knowledgeable people outside of VW on the Phaeton - and I was not the one to mention the name. PanEuropean has their respect and mine as well ;-)

      I bought a few things at the front desk including a brochure of the transparent factory which I am going to disassemble at work and PDF it here to the board. It is impressive. I also bought a model of the Phaeton for home along with a bunch of smaller phaetons for my family. I have to make them suffer for my obession. I also bought a lighter for my wife - how romantic am I...

      2006 cars are being made on the line now. I was told that the engine was the only thing that changed on the 12 cyl. I already emailed my dealer and was told that they don't have pricing or the ability to order a 2006. I was also told that DVD navigation along with a refresh was planned for 07. I would guess that is when the car will look more like the passat.

      We did talk about the bentley and I did not realize that it is 30 or 60 cm larger than the phaeton. I saw the short wheel base and realized that it looked better than the long wheel base (in my opinon). The back door does not have the same cut. I like them both - but hte swb looked more graceful to my eye..

      I hope that I did not bore everyone here. I had my camera with me but never took it out to take a single picture. I was so amazed with the tour that it never crossed my mine.

      Keith


    17. 06-12-2005 11:21 AM #17
      Amazing writeup! I'm sure you had a great time there! Perhaps I would make one of my holidays a pure Dresden Transparent Factory obsession package...

      And yes, Michael does have a unmatched knowledge of the car. Kudos to him.

      The limo that picked you up at the train station - was it a limo version of the Phaeton? I'm really interested at seeing that!

      Once again thanks for sharing your experience!


    18. 06-12-2005 11:26 AM #18
      I liked Frankfurt better - but that is just me. There seems to be a big party planned for next year in dresden - 800 years celebration. That might be interesting to head over to..

      The limo was a not a phaeton. I am looking on the web to find more information on it. I found it. It is called the Multivan. The model that I was picked up in was the Business. Check out this link http://www.vwn.de/multivan/deu....html and click on the link called Der Multivan business - the flash shows the interior of the van - with the Phaeton seats...

      Michael - is that his name ;-)

      Yes - I had a great time and I would recommend the visit to anyone who is going to be in the area..


    19. 06-12-2005 11:33 AM #19
      Terrific report. Great job! Thanks for presenting it.

    20. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      06-12-2005 03:43 PM #20
      Hi Keith:

      I'm really happy to hear that your visit to Dresden went so well. It is a wonderful, beautiful city (even without thinking about the Transparent Factory), and every time I go to the Transparent Factory, I get 're-energized' - because it is really an example of perfection in every respect, full of people who are passionate about their work.

      My guess is that you met Herr Stefan Schulte, who is Manager of Manufacturing and Marketing. There is a picture of him on the thread about the Phaeton Owner GTG in Germany that took place last month.

      All of the Transparent Factory staff who have any contact with the public speak English - everyone, without exception. Also, most people in the the former DDR (East Germany) who were 10 to 12 years of age or younger when Germany re-integrated in 1991 also speak English well, because it is the second language taught in the school system. This means that a visitor who only speaks English should not be the least bit concerned about planning a trip to Dresden. Whenever I am in Dresden, I use English all the time - at the hotel, in shops, and anytime I am in the Transparent Factory. (I have found that all I have to do is say about 3 words in the Swiss-German dialect I speak, and that is enough to make 80 year old grandmothers switch over to English... )

      In April of 2005, some of the Phaeton forum members who post here met at the Phaeton Owner GTG in Auburn Hills, MI , and we discussed the possibility of North American Customers placing orders for Phaeton trim and options that are not offered as part of the 'standard' choices within the North American Region (NAR). The Volkswagen of America Managers who were our hosts indicated that they would allow us to do this, as long as the options or trim that we wanted did not cause any conflict with the safety legislation (referred to as 'homogulation') in either the USA or Canada. This was very good news to us, and so far, one forum member has an order placed for a Phaeton with a custom interior. His vehicle is being built at this time.

      To my knowledge, there is not yet a formal, documented process that explains how to place an order for a Phaeton with equipment that is not a standard order option within NAR. So, here is how I suggest you go about placing your order. Do keep in mind that I am not a VW employee, just an enthusiastic owner, so this is not "official" advice.

      1) Find an enthusiastic VW dealer who is keen to work with you. It sounds like you have already done this.

      2) Make arrangements through that dealer to visit the Transparent Factory in Dresden. You have done that, too, but for the benefit of others who may want to repeat this process, the best way for the dealer to go about making arrangements is for the dealer to call Phaeton Customer Care, at the published toll-free number, 1-877-PHAETON.

      3) Go to Dresden, decide on everything that you want. You have to be sort of 'self-governing' concerning North American safety regulations. In other words, be aware that anything that changes the chassis or engine from NAR spec can't be chosen (e.g. no SWB Phaetons, no TDI engines, no deletion of the full size spare, which is required for rear impact protection). In principle, anything that is 'interior trim' is OK, although there are some pretty obscure NHTSA safety regulations that might trip you up by surprise. For example, you can't order cloth seats, because they have not been tested for 'bum friction' to ensure that the occupant does not slide forward and submarine in the event of a frontal impact accident.

      4) Get a list of the option and production codes for the Phaeton you want from the staff at the Transparent Factory. This will be a list of 3 character codes (letter-number combinations). Give this list to your dealer in North America.

      5) Have your dealer in North America contact Phaeton Customer Care (again), and PCC will put your dealer in touch with the correct people at the VW head office. Once that is done, your dealer can talk to them, and place the order for your Phaeton exactly as you have specified it. It then takes about 2 to 3 months for the car to arrive. It will be built fairly quickly, the delay is mostly in shipping, not in production.

      You will have to sort the pricing process out with your dealer once you get back, because the Dresden staff don't know what the North American prices are. What I did, before I first went to Dresden to place a custom order back in September of 2004, was to agree with my dealer on the price of the 'basic Phaeton' (a Phaeton configured as close as possible to what I wanted using the North American options), and then agreed with my dealer that he would charge me whatever his cost was for the 'extra', non-standard, European options, plus a fixed percentage markup on these extra options. That got all the financial stuff sorted out and out of the way before I even left for Dresden.

      It's also reasonable that your dealer may want a fairly significant down payment (deposit) before he or she orders the custom car for you. This is to protect them, in case you cannot complete the transaction for some unforeseen reason. I told my dealer I would put down 10% of the purchase price of the car, plus 100% of the purchase price of the extra options. We both felt comfortable with that. In the end, though, the V8 I had specified in Dresden was about the same price as a W12 that my dealer had in stock - and the only options missing on the in-stock W12 was some additional leather trim I wanted - so I bought the in-stock W12. But, I'm glad I made the trip to Dresden anyway.

      Let us know how the ordering process goes for you - we are all sort of pioneers at this. Don't underestimate the tremendous contribution that the staff at Phaeton Customer Care can make. Although they are not normally involved in the process of buying and ordering Phaetons (they are mostly after-sale support, I think), all the staff at PCC were in attendance at our meeting in Auburn Hills, and they can help direct you or your dealer to the right people within VW to get your custom-made Phaeton ordered easily.

      Michael


      Modified by PanEuropean at 3:45 PM 6-12-2005


    21. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      06-12-2005 04:02 PM #21
      Here are some other threads that relate to what we have been discussing here:

      About the Transparent Factory:
      A photo tour of the Transparent Factory in Dresden
      Official Transparent Factory Website (hover your mouse over the word 'deutsch', and a drop-down menu will appear, allowing you to change the language to English)

      About VW Individual, and Phaeton options that are not normally offered in North America:
      VW Individual Atelier at the Transparent Factory
      North American orders via VW Individual (an older discussion, Keith's original post)
      European Options List, VW Individual Offerings List
      VW Individual Phaeton Interiors - some photos
      Phaeton Forum Table of Contents (see the first post, at the top)
      Standard North American Colour and Option Lists

      About the various owner get-togethers that have taken place:
      Phaeton Owner GTG in Auburn Hills, MI - April 23 and 24, 2005
      Phaeton Owner GTG - Dresden, Germany May 20, 21, 2005

      About planning a trip to Dresden:
      City of Dresden - tourism guide
      Saxony tourism guide (Saxony is the 'state' that Dresden is located in)
      Hilton Dresden (my favourite place to stay - close to the Transparent Factory, but right in the heart of the city)

      Hope this gets you started....

      Michael


    22. Member culverwood's Avatar
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      07-13-2005 09:35 AM #22
      After a little confusion with my dealer and with the help of Pan European I arranged with VW Dresden to attend the “marriage” of my car. That is witness the body and engine/transmission being joined. This is simple for anyone from the UK so in case somebody else wants to try this is what happened.

      I contacted Dresden and the English speaking contact there Sandra Domse, Customer Management Coordination Export, Die Glaeserne Manufaktur - The Transparent Factory, asked me for my purchase number so that she could find out the time of the “marriage”.
      Having been given that the she was able to find the date and time of the car was being assembled.

      “Regarding the witnessing of the assembly of your Phaeton, we have received a revised schedule for the 11th July and would like to adapt our program accordingly.

      17.30 h Exclusive transfer service from the Westin Bellevue to the Transparent Factory. Upon your arrival, Ms. Jana Silberbach will welcome you at our customer lounge Ms. Silberbach will personally host you and accompany your visit to the assembly floors

      18.30 h Witnessing of the "marriage" on our assembly floors

      20.00 h Invitation to Dinner”

      I asked her for advice on hotels and was given a choice of five hotels VW recommended and I went ahead and booked one. When I told Sandra where I was staying she wrote back to say that VW could arrange special rates:

      “Since you confirmed the reservation of a hotel room at the Westin Bellevue, I would like to verify and adapt your rate to our special arrangement. As indicated, we have special cooperation with these hotels, if you are a guest of the Transparent Factory and make reservations through us.
      Regardless of your existing reservation, would you like us to adapt your room rate for you? In this case, would you like Classic or Deluxe? Deluxe is our recommendation since these rooms are located towards the banks of the river Elbe”.

      Needless to say I took advantage of the reduction.

      I booked Ryanair flights to Leipzig, actually an old Red Army Airforce base at Altenberg between Leipzig and Dresden £76.00 return. There is only one flight to the airport each day and that is the Ryanair one. A hire car was good value booked with the flight and I struck lucky and got a convertible for the price of a base air-con. The drive to Dresden was about an hour and a half but the traffic was heavy but frighteningly fast. The only map trouble was after getting off the autobahn at Dresden where the massive amount of road works and diversions sent me completely the wrong way.

      At 17.30 I was picked up by the Business Van a beautifully prepared vehicle with a white suede interior and an array of buttons and tricks that I was unable to fathom on my 5 minute journey.

      Business Van

      On arrival at the Transparent Factory I was taken to the customer lounge and introduced to Jana Silberbach my guide for the evening. Jana spoke perfect English as did everyone that I spoke to including one guide who was born in Atlanta and wanted to meet some American owners as he was going back this summer. I directed him to this forum as a place to contact such people but I don’t know if he will join. Prospective owners coming to the "Atelier" individualisation studio, customers coming for the “marriage” of their car and those coming to pick up their car all get the individual treatment, while day visitors can get a guided tour though not of the production area.

      Customer Lounge View

      After coffee we went down to the "Atelier" Individualisation Studio where they have all the special paints, leathers, wood etc and some pretty special visualisation tools. I said to Jana that unfortunately I was not aware of these possibilities when I ordered my car and it is not something that VW UK seems too keen on. I think they are missing a trick here.
      From there we went down to the showroom area where they had three Phaetons including a very light silver colour that looked great and a LWB version that seemed great for a Head of State but not much good if you are driving it as all the extra space was for the back passenger.

      View of Production

      Logistics Unit

      Jana then took me to the assembly area where we had to don white coats before being allowed on the production floor, Canadian maple clean enough to eat your dinner off. The centre section of the floor was moving though at such a slow speed that it was difficult to tell at a glance but when it was pointed out it was clear. This is not a mass production factory but a mass customisation factory. The logistics and the way components are provided to the assemblers would allow a wide variety of low volume high specification products to be produced here.

      View of Factory (my car on right)

      My Engine & Transmission

      Before Joining

      We wondered along to the point at which the engine/transmission (V6TDI) and body (Tarantella Black SWB) of my car were to be joined and I was surprised to see a photographer and assistant there, I had been taking a few of my own photos having asked permission whenever I got the camera out. At this point is the first of only three robots in the factory and the button to start the robot was pointed out to me and I was beckoned to press it!

      Robot Emerges

      The parquet floor turned upside down and a robot drill started tightening all the bolts necessary and registered correct fixing of each bolt on a screen.

      Screen showing fixing

      I asked and was told that more than 90 percent of production at the moment is the V6 TDI engine which is well priced in Europe, economical and more than fast enough on our crowded roads.

      We went on and saw more of the production including an incident that showed the problems of a transparent factory. We arrived at the window fixing point it had been a sunny day and at this time of the evening the sun was shining directly on the glass and when the machine tried to register the glass’s dimensions before fixing it could not as the sun was flaring out the picture. This was solved by human intervention and a little masking tape. The robot then applied the adhesive to the glass but again due to the heat at one corner the bead did not stick to the glass. Again the man working at that point spotted a problem and another glass was selected and the process started again.

      Robot applies adhesive

      After the tour I was presented with photos of the “marriage” of my car and shown to the Terrace where as it was such a nice evening the Restaurant was serving dinner. This is not a factory canteen but a first class restaurant run by one of the best hotels in town and throughout the evening local Dresdeners came for dinner or just a drink. Thanks VW for a great meal.

      Dresden at Sunset

      At 21.00 I went back to the reception and caught the Business Van back to my hotel after one of the most interesting evenings I can remember.

      William


      Modified by PanEuropean at 10:54 PM 3-30-2008


    23. Former Advertiser
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      07-13-2005 10:20 AM #23
      William...Thank you for a wonderful dialogue...Great to share your experience...Sadly your photos are not coming up...Maybe Michael can help here...

    24. Member chrisj428's Avatar
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      07-13-2005 10:20 AM #24
      This brings a tear of joy to my eye -- how I would LOVE to experience this firsthand!
      --Chris

    25. 07-13-2005 10:27 AM #25
      I want to be a bridesmaid at a Phaeton marriage! A very different process than I have witnessed at the GM plants in Lake Orion and Lansing, where robots are plentiful. Absolutely beautiful. Enjoy your lovely new car.

      Actually, I may be able to visit Dresden later this year. How much lead time does one need to set up a Transparent Factory visit?

      ~PC

      Modified by PhaetonChix at 10:40 AM 7-13-2005


      Modified by PhaetonChix at 11:19 AM 7-14-2005


    26. Member culverwood's Avatar
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      07-13-2005 11:35 AM #26
      Chris
      Michael has messaged me and I have sent him the photos by e-mail. Thanks for the offer though.
      William

    27. 09-07-2005 12:45 AM #27
      I definately have to experience that one day. Excellent post.

    28. 12-21-2005 04:03 AM #28
      Wow that is awesome. This story is on digg now so its gonna get hella attention.

      I thought the phaeton was being discontinued? Must be more popular in europe than here in the states, I have only seen one outside of a dealership.


    29. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      12-21-2005 04:22 AM #29
      Volkswagen of America will no longer import the Phaeton to North America effective the end of February 2006. However, Phaeton production continues in Dresden for all other markets, and the Phaeton is continuing to sell well (and show year over year sales growth) in the European market.

      Michael


    30. 12-23-2005 01:43 AM #30
      Quote, originally posted by uscfan »
      Wow that is awesome. This story is on digg now so its gonna get hella attention.

      My best friend follows sites like that and sent me this link... I was like, "What are you doing on the Vortex? That's my job!"

      Awesome thread as usual, Michael. I actually had not seen that level of detail and description into the Factory yet. Incredible.


    31. 12-22-2005 03:05 PM #31
      Wow! Fabulous photos of an amazing building.

      Thank you.

      Very positive review by the Guardian's architectural correspondent from 2002

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts....html

      and this is the architects' web site, they've done a lot of work for other parts of the VAG group

      http://www.henn.de/default.asp...ng=EN


    32. 12-26-2005 12:22 AM #32
      I love that place. You could eat off the floors in that factory! Now that is the proper way to do it. Only in Germany...

    33. 12-26-2005 01:11 PM #33
      The floors are Canadian Maple...used for fire retardantcy and sound deadening.

      I can not wait until May when I'll get to see it in person.

      ~PC


    34. 12-27-2005 12:06 PM #34
      Calling all intellectual property lawyers...Wow, talk about a SNAFU...

      ~PC


      Modified by PhaetonChix at 2:56 PM 12-29-2005


    35. Member Highline's Avatar
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      12-29-2005 05:38 AM #35
      A better photo:

      ... and these are the people who sued Audi for using "Q" on their SUV model name.

      2008 VW Passat V6 FSI Highline. 3.2L V6 4MOTION, DSG, HID + Corner Lights, RNS-510 SAT NAV, 12-way Leather+Alcantara Sport seats, Massage function, (Parallel) Park Assist, Sport Suspensions + 18" wheels.

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