(article poor in terms of pics and numbers, by directives of the brand 😉
Volkswagen has many factories in Germany. Each of the brand’s models has its own production line. The California is manufactured in Hanover. You guessed it… that’s our van Patrick’s model. 😉 That was all the motivation we needed to head to Lower Saxony…. and finally learn about where our house on wheels came from! Patrick was going back to his birthplace to meet his new brothers and sisters. When we arrived, lots of people were in front of the factory’s gates. It must have been time for the shift change.
Franck greeted us in his white coat. We exchanged a few words but it was difficult to communicate because he doesn’t speak a word of English and we don’t speak a word of German. Luckily, we were saved by Katarina who is an English-speaking trainee! She was prepared with a pre-translated list of technical vocabulary words to describe what we would be seeing. The four of us set out to follow the path that each vehicle takes through the factory.
We passed tons of enormous boxes filled with thousands of parts that will go into the vehicles. The first production line focused on the vehicle’s roof. Workers chose the colour and attached the electrical or mechanical mechanism that people will use to pop the van’s top. We moved on and passed large interior parts like kitchens and seats. The next line was timed and the vehicles were on a conveyor belt that crept forward little by little. We worried about the workers, but they seemed to be used to this constant motion. It didn’t seem to faze them at all. This was the assembly line and each worker had a precise task to complete in a specific part of the vehicle. At this stage, the California was divided into three models, depending on the vehicle’s options: Coast, Beach or Ocean. After the interior was completed, workers on the next production line added the roof. Next came the quality control phase, filled with all kinds of tests. Every inch was meticulously inspected for even the tiniest defect. After passing the inspection, the vehicle’s last stop was at the car wash.
The sparkling new vehicles were then sent to a larger factory that manages transportation and logistics for the thousands of vehicles sent all over the world by train, lorry, or boat. Each of these vehicles represents another couple, family or group of friends who will be able to experience the freedom of a road trip. We can’t wait to meet them out on the road and be part of their journeys!
[On the road, at the 52°22’18.1″N and 9°40’50.0″E]