VW Tour by Tom Swanson

We first attempted to set up a group tour years ago but all space was 
reserved for months out and were put on a list.  Then, all tours were 
cancelled until further notice when is was announced that VW would be 
expanding the plant to build a new, unnamed SUV. I would check back 
every year and they confirmed that we were still on a list.  Earlier 
this year I read in the local paper that VW was going to start factory 
tours again.  I contacted them only to find out that people had changed 
and there was no list of hold overs from before….and, that space on 
tours was already filled for months out.  Expressing my dismay and 
history of waiting, VW decided to let us reserve more than one tour for 
our group in the third quarter of the year.  Their normal policy is one 
tour per group per quarter.  I announced the tour in late July and had 
more than enough response to fill both 20 person tours in the third week 
of September.  I quickly called back and secured two more tours for the 
last week in September and filled those also.  When I called back again 
they said no and explained the one per quarter rule to me that they had 
already stretched.  BUT, when I found out that their new quarter began 
the first of October they let me have another in the following week.  
Not long after filling that tour also they called back with a scheduling 
conflict and if I would move the tour they would allow us another in the 
second week of October.  In the end, we had 120 retirees reserve space 
on the tours which took place over four weeks and all but 5 actually 

The tour consisted of the body and frame/driveline fabrication building
and the vehicle assembly and finish/inspection building. The paint shop
was off-limits due to the highly controlled environment, the nature of
the work making observation difficult and the proprietary processes
used. This building was the first of all the buildings to be started on
the site due to the complexity of the systems to be constructed. Once
reaching the floor, tour participants would board a people mover
consisting of a tug and five carts each consisting of four forward
facing Passat front seats. The body and frame fab building was the
first area on the tour and was extremely quiet considering the amount of
work taking place. This work consisted of lifting, fitting and welding
all the steel that went into fabricating the body and the vehicle
frames…..all done by pods of robots arranged in a circle designed to
complete a certain task such as the crush cage/center section of a
body. All robots in each pod were managed by a single employee so there
were very few workers in the area and very little noise….mostly just
sparks and acrid smoke from the welding machines. The robots were
colored depending on which vehicle they produced, blue for Passat sedan
and yellow for the Atlas SUV so only one color of robots would be active
at a time in a pod depending on the vehicle being constructed at that
moment. The building housing the assembly line and finish areas was
where all the people were and it was noisier and brighter. This is
where the painted bodies were mated to the driveline/frame in a single
step with machines holding them in place while a few employees on
rolling stools zipped around underneath with bolt and nut drivers
suspended by cables. Once completed in a few seconds, all other parts
were “hung” on the vehicle in appropriate order such as fenders, hoods,
trunk lids, lights, dashboard, interior, doors, bumpers, wheels with
tires, etc. Fluids were added and the vehicle driven to the alignment
and finish area. All this time there were different tunes being played
in the background….almost like you were on the “It’s a Small, Small,
World” ride at Disney. Turns out, when anyone has a problem on the
assembly line such as dropping a bolt, a screw gun jambs, etc. they pull
a cord like on a bus and it turns on a lullaby. The lullaby increases
in tempo the longer the problem goes unresolved by the line foreman in
that area until the line stops. A LULLABY! Very strange but much more
soothing than shouting out problems. It was a fascinating 1+ hour tour
and all that commented gave good reviews. This one is worth your time
and would recommend it to anyone who can walk no more than a quarter
mile to and from the plant and down a flight of stairs to the plant
floor and, of course, back up again at the end of the tour. Get there
earlier than suggested, parking is a problem. Individuals can fill out
the form at http://www.volkswagengroupamerica.com/tours.html and send to
tours@vw.com for themselves or list up to 19 others and go as a group.
Of course, to find space for a group will require a greater lead-time
for the reservation.

Factory Tours
Volkswagen Chattanooga offers visitor tours Monday through Thursday at
11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tours last approximately one and a half hours
and are offered free of charge.
If you are interested in touring our facility please download, complete
and email the request form to tours@vw.com.
· The requestor must provide an official request to tours@vw.com. Please
be advised that your requested date does not confirm your tour. A
confirmation will be provided once all arrangements are finalized.
· Photography is not permitted. Cell phones MUST BE TURNED OFF during
the tour.
· All tour participants must be at least 14 years old.
· Tour group size cannot exceed 20 people.
· Participants should arrive 10 minutes prior to the tour. All tours
will begin promptly at the scheduled time.
· Solid shoes must be worn. No flip flops, high heels, open toes shoes.
· Long pants must be worn. No shorts, dresses or skirts.
· A list of first and last names of participants must be provided 48
hours prior to your tour.
· Please note any special needs of a participant.
· The duration of the tour is approximately 90 minutes, and individuals
are expected to walk for a minimum of 30 minutes to participate.
· Groups and individuals are limited to one scheduled tour per quarter.
· Volkswagen Chattanooga reserves the right to cancel tours at any time.
· Media / automaker tours must be arranged separately.
If you have any further questions, please email tours@vw.com.

Chattanooga Retirees Tour the VW Plant

More retirees tour the VW Plant