A tour of Autostadt, Volkswagen's 'Disneyland for cars'
Volkswagen's engineers wanted to elevate the car buying experience to something of an art form, to make picking up your car a truly memorable event. The result? Autostadt, an automotive theme park like no other.
Welcome to Volkswagen's Autostadt, a mixture of delivery center, museum and vehicular theme park. It opened back in 2000, but has been continually upgraded and updated, making it a very interesting destination. Anyone who purchases a VW in Germany can choose to pick up their car here, rather than at the dealership. There's a fee (approximately 300 Euro, or roughly $380), but that's actually significantly cheaper than the delivery fee at a dealer. For that, you get free admission to the theme park.
The park is quite large, covering some six square kilometers (about four square miles). Big, open areas feature crazy means of transportation -- perfect for tiring out the kids before the long drive home.
Finally, the engine compartment of a Porsche Panamera, the hybrid model with its supercharged V-6. You can see the supercharger sitting on top of the engine cylinders, and the bright orange cabling that drives power to the hybrid system.
Autostadt has an large section dedicated to fostering greater knowledge about the environment, including the sourcing of raw materials and how much water is used in manufacturing cars. No surprise, that section of the museum is green.
Autostadt features a small but impressive museum full of cars that are rotated regularly. Obviously the focus is on cars that are part of the Volkswagen Group, but there are plenty of other "icons" to be found here.
The museum is a great mix of attainable cars, like this Porsche 914, and less attainable ones, like the lovely Lamborghini Miura. Both were produced about the same era, but while a 914 in beautiful condition will cost you about $20,000 today, a Miura like that one is more like $1,000,000.
A robot arm swings up and retrieves each car automatically, delivering it to the ground floor with no human intervention. If this is looking familiar, that's because a similar set of towers appeared in "Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol." They actually wanted to film at Autostadt, but VW turned them away, as it would have disrupted too many deliveries.