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Car and Driver: Glassy: VW Turning Its “Transparent Factory” into an Interpretive Center

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Die Glaeserne Manufaktur in Dresden/Fertigung Volkswagen Phaeton

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When the Volkswagen Phaeton debuted more than a decade ago, part of the over-the-top hoopla surrounding the VW brand’s luxury entry was the model’s dedicated production facility: a glass-walled showcase factory. Now that production of that car has finally come to an end—that last Phaeton rolled off the line on March 18th—VW is turning its so-called “Transparent Factory” into a “brand showcase for electromobility and digitalization.” At least until a new Phaeton arrives.

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Die Glaeserne Manufaktur in Dresden/Fertigung Volkswagen Phaeton

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The cars assembled at the Transparent Factory—the Phaeton and, for one and a half years, the Bentley Flying Spur as well—were largely hand-built on expensive wooden floors and behind large glass surfaces. Situated in the center of historic Dresden, one of Germany’s most beautiful cities, the setting was reminiscent of an art gallery rather than an automotive production plant, and it underscored the perfectionism and the premium aspirations behind the Phaeton, a car whose sales never met the expectations of its creators.

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DB03_60447_LARGE

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The Transparent Factory will continue to host classical music events and automotive club gatherings, but its main focus will be educating visitors about the future of mobility in a “playful, interactive and informative manner.” Whatever that means.

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The best news is that the unique production site will be gearing up for another vehicle soon—specifically, the next-generation Phaeton, a car that VW says will feature a “long-distance, fully electric powertrain and forward-looking assistance systems,” and come with “modern and emotional design.” And one that, once again, will be assembled with full transparency—transparency being a quality that VW as a company could use more of right about now.

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