Europe’s largest car manufacturing complex – Volkswagen‘s main plant in Germany – is launching a massive retraining campaign to train and develop production employees for upcoming electric models.
Following on from the Zwickau and Emden passenger car plants, the Wolfsburg factory will also become an electric vehicle factory over the next few years, VW says. This fundamental transformation is not only to be grounded in specialist training, but also has an emotional side: The Wolfsburg factory has opened an eMotionRoom where over the coming months 22,000 production employees can enjoy an entertaining experience of the transformation process from ICE to electric vehicles.
Sub-assembly of the ID.3 begins at the Wolfsburg plant later this year and will be followed by full production of substantial numbers of the model from mid-2024. “The new production line in Wolfsburg will give us more flexibility than ever before,” Plant Manager Rainer Fessel said. “The assembly line will be the first at one of the Volkswagen brand’s passenger car plants in Germany that is able to build both MEB and ICE vehicles on the same line. With the future scalable (SSP) platform, this will make Wolfsburg Volkswagen’s first multi-platform factory a few years from now. That will give the main plant a major advantage in terms of capacity utilization over the next ten years. It is how we are safeguarding jobs at the Wolfsburg plant and giving our workforce a clear perspective for the future.”
The new production line for the ID.3 and the new Tiguan will be installed over the coming months. An initial €460 million is being invested through early 2025. The lion’s share will be invested in production facilities, the rest is earmarked for retraining – such as the eMotionRoom – and necessary conversion measures.
In addition to the ID.3, the Wolfsburg factory is to begin building a further model based on the MEB (SUV) in the near future. This, VW claims, will strengthen the location as the “heart of the VW brand” over the coming years.
“Volkswagen is constantly working on innovative training and development concepts as we move towards becoming a provider of sustainable and software- oriented mobility. These concepts are our key to a successful transformation. The more digital our world becomes, the more crucial our team’s skills become for our competitiveness,” said Gunnar Kilian Board Member for Human Resources, said at the opening of the eMotionRoom. “Volkswagen has launched a broad-based retraining campaign at its German sites, and the escape rooms play an important role in this initiative. After Zwickau and Emden, we are now rolling out this successful concept at our largest plant here in Wolfsburg.
Gerardo Scarpino, Deputy Chairman of the General Works Council, commented: “The eMotionRoom principle already met with very positive feedback from our employees in Zwickau. The idea proved extremely popular – that is why we have included it for Wolfsburg, too. The transition to e-mobility can only happen together with our colleagues. Getting them on board, inspiring and training them is absolutely crucial to our collective success. That is because we can only master the transformation together – and the eMotionRoom is a key part of the puzzle.”
The eMotionRoom in Wolfsburg was developed in-house by the Volkswagen Group Academy and the plant’s organizational units. It has three intricately designed rooms, and employees must solve various puzzles and problems in each of these rooms within 20 minutes. The challenge begins with a journey back in time to the 19th century (invention of the first electric motors), the second room traces the history of the Wolfsburg location to the present day (production of ICE vehicles). The third room takes a look at the digital future of driving.
Like classic escape rooms, the teams (each made up of four people) must solve various problems in each room to open the door. Each group is guided by two instructors from the Group Academy via a video link. The eMotionRoom is part of the one-day eMotionDay that also includes other training modules – such as the use of VR headsets in production. The eMotionRoom will be in use at least until the end of 2024.
“After Zwickau and Emden, our Wolfsburg plant is now beginning the transition to e- mobility in the brand’s German production network,” Christian Vollmer, Volkswagen Brand Board of Management Member for Production and Logistics said, commenting on the fundamental transformation of car manufacturing in Germany. “Wolfsburg is special in that ICE vehicles will also still be built here for many years to come. In other words: For Wolfsburg, the upcoming transformation is first and foremost about integration – interfacing smoothly with ongoing operations and with production. That is a very special challenge.”