Volkswagen Transparent Factory, Dresden, Germany

Volkswagen Transparent Factory, Dresden
Landscape view of the transparent factory at Dresden

Our itinerary said a visit to the Volkswagen Transparent factory on the last day. And on the first day, we did see a glass and steel structure from the car. In my mind, it was just another visit to a manufacturing facility and it would be sophisticated was a set expectation. I did no reading on this one, so when I actually stood inside that glass shell, whatever I saw was a sheer delight.

It was not just another manufacturing facility, this was a studio format designer facility where custom made Phaetons are manufactured. You may get an idea from the fact that they produce only about 28 cars a day vis-à-vis a typical unit that would produce about 4000 cars.

My visit to the Volkswagen Transparent Factory, Dresden

Assembly Line at Volkswagen Transparent Factory, Dresden
Assembly line at the factory in Dresden

We were first taken to the customers’ lounge. It had hundreds of small models of Phaeton in different body colors, in different upholstery colors and plain samples of panel colors. Each piece is coded and put in front of the code reader generates an assembled image of the car on the screen. So that customers can play with the colors and a few other things before they decide on what they want in their Phaeton. In case a customer wants a color outside those available, that can also be done but that obviously comes at a price.

Volkswagen Transparent Factory Tour

From here we were taken to a globe-like structure bang in the middle of the facility. A small film was shown about the company. Incidentally, the subtitles were in Chinese. Why not? 70% of the cars from this facility go to China. About 20% remain in Germany. 10% goes to the rest of the world. Less than 10 cars come to India per year. Globe like structure commemorates the original spherical structure that stood at this place before the IInd world war. It was a place that hosted art and culture. The factory keeps the tradition alive by hosting musical concerts and by inviting artists to work here. In fact, an orchestra celebrated factory’s 10th anniversary by using original parts of phaeton to produce music.

Musical concert at the factory in Dresden
Musical concert at the factory in Dresden


The assembly line besides being open and transparent behind glass walls is interesting. The middle part of the assembly line moves as employees in their white uniform handcraft the cars. For a manufacturing facility, the place is very quiet. Everything just seems to be moving on its own. We stood by to see a couple of robots fit the spare wheel and the windshields. A sense of wonder made me feel like a kid. The spare parts moved on their own in a basket up and down the elevators. Car bodies on a monorail like suspension came down and settled on a platform. Engineers calmly worked on fixing thousands of big and small parts to the car body.

Black seems to be a very popular color for their cars. My visual survey said more than 80% of the cars were black on the shop floor. Finished cars reach the quality check area where they are taken for a test drive. How I wished they would let me test drive a brand new vehicle. But guess that was too much to ask for.

Car body at works
Car body at works

Quality Check & Delivery

After the quality check, the cars go to a tall glass tower from where they are delivered to the customers. Handing over is also made special. Outside the glass walls, you can hear low sounds of the birds chirping. These are artificial sounds to distract birds so that they do not bang themselves on the glass. Logistics – that includes transporting parts to and from the warehouse on the outskirts of the city is done using a cargo tram. The tram runs like the other tram’s in the city. It does not put any additional pressure on the city traffic. Even though the manufacturing facility is located in the middle of the city.

Cargo Tram for the factory
Cargo Tram for the factory

In the end, we were left with a few models to click pictures with or have a closer look at.  This tour is open to anyone for a small price. Reportedly this is one of its kind auto-manufacturing unit in the world. Auto enthusiasts may find this tour to be the sole reason to visit Dresden.

Popular Mechanics have collected these 21 cool facts about this transparent factory.

All Pics courtesy Volkswagen Media Services.

Recommend you to read the following tourist attractions in Germany.

Walk around Dresden Old Town – Things to do in Dresden

Admiring The Meissen Porcelain

Bastei Rocks of Saxon Switzerland National Park

Leipzig Germany – A City that Celebrates Music

Panometer Dresden – Recreating The Dresden of 1756

Spinnerei Leipzig – From Cotton to Culture

Malgorzata Chodakowska – Sculpting Wine

First Impressions of Germany


  1. Car enthusiasts should also visit the Horch Museum in Zwickau, located in the original Audi factory, and Leipzig where one can drive a Porsche on the race track or on the mud track of the sports car maker’s impressive factory.


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