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Evoking the mystique of the marque

The elite of German carmakers have caught the museum bug, showcasing their products in impressive interactive complexes.

VW Autostadt in Wolfsburg

Volkswagen Group’s Autostadt (Car City) is a pioneer of the lavish, modern car museum in Germany. And yet, what VW opened next to its main factory and corporate headquarters in 2000 is much more than just a museum. It is an automobile theme park, complete with luxury hotel, and has attracted over 15 million visitors to date. The park landscape with its many lagoons covers about 25 hectares and cost about 430 million euros. Its main attraction is the two glass car towers. The Autostadt takes you on a journey through the world of mobility, based on the slogan “people, cars and what moves them”. The attractions include tours of the production plant, a museum, a design studio, training courses for drivers and a pick-up centre for new cars.

www.autostadt.de

Audi Terminal

VW subsidiary Audi shows off the marque’s flair and philosophy at its Bavarian headquarters in Ingolstadt. Here you will find the Audi Forum with its museum, tours of the production plant, test drives, a customer service centre and restaurants. The company also gives the Audi brand a distinctive face abroad. In Vélizy near Paris, the carmaker is building the Audi Terminal (photograph). Planned for completion in 2009, it is a dynamic, transparent building with striking aluminium and glass façades, a characteristic feature of Audi architecture. The office building, with over 10,000 square metres of floor space, has been designed as a model for new Audi centres in other countries.

www.audi.de

Porsche Museum

Am Porscheplatz 1 is the address of the new museum that is being built by the sports-car manufacturer in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. According to Porsche’s CEO Wiedeking, the new museum will depict the company’s 100-year-plus tradition even more vividly than before. The building’s architecture is spectacular, resembling a dynamic, monolithic body. The bold design by the Viennese architectural firm Delugan Meissl features a huge exhibition room which seems to float above the ground and is supported by only three pillars. This gem of a structure will cost Porsche well over 50 million euros. From the end of 2008 visitors can experience the mystique of the marque with 80 sports cars and a repair shop for vintage cars.

www.porsche.com

Mercedes Museum

The tour of the Mercedes-Benz Museum begins with a remark made by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1905, that the car would be a “temporary phenomenon”. Of course, His Majesty has since been proved wrong by the marque with the star, which launched the age of the automobile in 1886 with the combined ingenuity of Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz. Over seven floors, amidst award-winning architecture, the museum (which came with a price tag of roughly 150 million euros) leads its visitors through the company’s 120-year history. It exhibits a total of 160 cars, plus all manner of technical triumphs and innovations, as well as information on the company’s history.

www.museum-mercedes-benz.com

BMW World

The Bavarian Motor Works opened their interactive museum centre – BMW World – in October 2007. The carmaker invested half a billion euros in the building, which is situated next to the company’s Munich headquarters, the high-rise Four-Cylinder Building and the BMW production plant. BMW had its car world designed as a new showpiece for this ensemble by a renowned architectural design firm, Coop Himmelb(l)au from Vienna, who are well-known for their unusual ideas. BMW World features a great expanse of glass, a floating “cloud roof” and the building’s trademark double cone, all of which does full justice to the brand’s dynamic self-image. The aim is to attract around 800,000 guests a year (equalling Mercedes) with exhibitions, an Events Forum and restaurants. BMW’s pick-up centre aims to hand over 45,000 new cars a year directly to customers. The neighbouring BMW Museum, which is currently being refurbished, reopens in the spring.

www.bmw-welt.com

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