Who said college students can’t go on field trips?
The trip to the Volkswagen factory began with the bumpiest bus ride I have ever been on in my life. It was long, too, and my car-girl excitement made me impatient. Eventually, we made it through the seemingly never-ending high-rises to a more rural district of Shanghai called Jiading. This is a picture of the outside of the factory. It doesn’t look like much from afar, but behind this building is an operation like nothing I’ve ever seen.
Our tour guide began by giving a brief introduction. She shared that the two shareholders are SAIC Motor and Volkswagen Group and the investment ratio is 50/50. I learned that this factory employs nearly 34,000 people, and that production exceeded 19 million vehicles in 2017. We were then given stylish safety glasses and took seats on industrial golf carts to tour the different factory buildings.
One building was populated by orange and yellow robot arms that lifted pieces of sheet metal and set them on a conveyer belt that took them to be pressed into car doors. Another building we toured was a different conveyor belt, from which hung full car frames. The belt moved slowly enough for workers to assemble their assigned piece of the car (i.e. the plastic wheel well liner) before the next body came along. There was also a building for painting, but we weren’t allowed inside because the temperature can’t vary by even one degree or the paint won’t distribute or dry evenly.
At the exit was a lineup of all the VW models produced at this factory. I work at a dealership, where we get shipments of brand new, still wrapped Aston Martins, but these vehicles were pristine – they were beautiful. I regret to inform you that they did not allow me to leave with one as a souvenir. *sad face*
Not a VW fan? Stay tuned for more about cars I saw while I was in China!