In June 2000, Volkswagen opened the Autostadt, a city of cars alongside Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg. It is just an hour by high speed train from Berlin.
Each year 2 million visitors come to see the technology behind this car maker's legendary reliability. Set on 25 hectares are display pavilions, 12 cinemas, a laboratory, winding pathways, a Kids World and 11 food outlets, ranging from snack bars to full-service restaurants.
The Group Forum shows how the huge corporation meets the needs of customers worldwide while preserving the individuality and innovative thinking of Volkswagen.
Seven Marque Pavilions show the many faces of the company famous brands such as Audi, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini and Bentley. The pavilions epitomise technical versatility, creativity and architectural distinction.
The Volkswagen Automuseum has vintage cars, offering insights into the first years of last century's most influential technology.
At the heart of the Autostadt, the site where the Beetle first entered mass production, the Customer Centre welcomes new Volkswagen owners, who take delivery of up to a thousand new cars each day. So popular is it that every third VW in Germany is collected here. Buyers relax until called and the car is delivered on a conveyor.
One car is produced every 45 seconds. The distribution centre, staffed only by robots, has two 20-storey towers, each holding 400 cars ready for delivery.
The Car Design Studio shows how car designers go from a mere sketch to the real thing. A robot cuts away at a plasticine model of the latest VW, a cross-section of the new car and a sun fuel laboratory showing how Volkswagen and Shell develop fuels.
There is even an elaborate off-road track for novices to test four-wheel driving skills. It has twisting and turning surfaces, stones, sand and water.
A stay at the Ritz-Carlton on the Mittelland Canal may be in order. This is a circular building with 174 rooms and suites, two restaurants and two lounge/bars.
Kraftwerk Health and Fitness Club has two whirlpools, steam and dry sauna, massage, solarium and a variety of body and facial treatments.
Wolfsburg in the north of Germany.
Autostadt entry is $23 for adults and $10 for children.
The Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg de-luxe rooms start at around $347 a night. Breakfast is included.
Emirates has return flights to Frankfurt. Return economy fares including taxes are:
- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $2252
- Perth $2272
- Darwin $2408
- Adelaide/Hobart $2416
Valid for sale until April 15, 2006, for travel between April 1-May 15, 2006.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
The Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg
38440 Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony
Ph: 49 (0) 5361-607000
Fax: 49 (0) 5361-608000
Ph: 1300 303 777