Leipzig is the home of Porsche production for Cayenne and Panamera cars and, after ten years of Cayenne production, the Leipzig factory has hit the 500,000 vehicle production milestone this week. A special edition Cayenne, designed for the Leipzig fire brigade, rolled off the production line and became the half million marker for the factory.
Gadget Luxe was given an exclusive tour of the factory earlier this month and treated a spin around the FIA certified F1 test track that each vehicle visits before the showroom – no Porsche comes with zero miles on the clock…
“Often German customers come to Porsche Leipzig to pick up their new car” says Dajana Sheibe, our Porsche guide that strips us of all cameras, phones and recording equipment before we leave reception, leaving us with just pencil and paper.
“Our track is divided into two parts, the second part is for the cars produced in the factory” says Shiebe as we walk past the track which recreates several famous racing tracks, most notably the ‘corkscrew’ style turn of Laguna Seca with a huge drop and poor horizon visibility. A Panamera blocks our path, speeding through the crossing between the track and the factory, oblivious to the right of way indicator for pedestrians. Then the car is gone, roaring into the first corner of the track, creating a deafening tyre squeal, leaving nothing but rubber and smoke.
As we enter the factory the staff, dressed exclusively in red dungarees and white polo shirts like preppy Super Mario brothers, file out in silence while several attractive women rush by in white coats, carrying notes. “Around 10% of the factory workforce are female” says Sheibe before revealing that the merger between Volkswagen and Porsche has just been announced to the world, explaining the notes, the rushing and the factory exit of all staff.
Hollow shells of cars float in the air, suspended by machines, waiting to join the engine and wheels underneath them. “This is where the marriage happens” says Sheibe, before going on to talk about the ‘birth’ of a car once the ignition is turned on for the first time. “Most of the workers here will never step into a Porsche” she says with an edge of sadness but mentions that corporate family days for staff allow rides in the new cars, like ‘taxi rides’. We don’t ask what car she drives. Perhaps it’s one of the few Audis in the parking lot, flanked 10/1 by Porsche classics.
The factory used to close at lunch on a Friday for logistical reasons but the demand for Cayenne is so great, the factory now operates a full working week policy. Meeting hubs for staff are surrounded by glass walls, covered in neatly arranged notes – the workers return to these areas and eat lunch while pointing at production schedules. As we leave the factory, there’s a giant IKEA style warehouse full of boxes which contain car parts. A wall of buttons causes different parts of the room to become illuminated, so parts can be located at speed. “It prevents mistakes” says Shiebe. “Well, most mistakes, maybe we have one or two – we are human after all”.