WOLFSBURG, Germany — At its world headquarters and near its 48,000-employee auto plant, VW has built a combination of theme park, welcome center and modern work station.
Called the Autostadt, it has attracted 2 million people a year and a total of 17 million since opening in 2000, said facility spokesman Nicholas Batten. The center has become the top attraction in North Germany, he said.
Developed by VW on 62 acres, the Autostadt, which translates into “car city” in English, cost more than $500 million to build, he said. Tour guides speak a total of 37 languages to accommodate visitors, he said, and the facility has more than a half dozen individual pavilions holding a large museum of cars of all makes. VW’s individuals brands also have pavilions.
* Displays 40 brands of vehicles, including VW, Bentley, Lamborghini
* Attracts 2 million visitors a year
* Cost more than $500 million to build
* Features famous VWs, including the 1967 Beetle on the cover of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album
Perhaps the most noticeable presences are the two round, 20-story car towers where people who order cars from around the world can pick them up in a creative storage facility.
Peik Von Bestenbostel, head of VW group communication-corporate and business, said the Autostadt is a chance to build a tight relationship with customers.
“It might give us additional customers at the end of the day,” he said.
VW officials declined to give away what kind of welcome center may land in Chattanooga. While certainly nothing on the order of the Autostadt, the Chattanooga center’s design will fit the area and meet VW’s design philosophy, they said.
New VW for Chattanooga getting world’s attention
The blueprint for the new midsize sedan to be made in Chattanooga is drawing the attention of “the best designer in the world,” one top Volkswagen official says.
“You’ll see a lot of good design in the next generation of Volkswagen,” Horst Neumann, a member of the German automaker’s key five-member board of management, said Tuesday.
Dr. Neumann specifically cited the work of Walter de Silva, the company’s chief designer, whose team is crafting the vehicle aimed at helping boost the company’s market share in the United States.
“I’ve talked to a lot of U.S. car dealers recently,” he said. “They want us to bring Volkswagen back into the hearts and minds of Americans.
“We believe in the future of the American market. We’re determined to play a major role,” said Dr. Neumann, who oversees human resources and organization for Volkswagen.
The car will be made in a new $1 billion plant in Chattanooga at Enterprise South industrial park near Interstate 75, where a welcome center is expected to go up and serve as its public face.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...