Twenty million visit VW's Autostadt
12th March, 2010
This year the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, which was opened on the 1st
June 2000, celebrates its tenth anniversary. During this celebratory year, a 'milestone' was reached: by Thursday
25th February 2010 a total of more than 20 million visitors had passed through the Autostadt gates.
The decision by those in charge at Volkswagen to open an automobile theme park in June 2000 saw the beginning
of a very unusual success story. Otto Ferdinand Wachs, the Autostadt’s CEO comments: “The Autostadt’s
continuing popularity throughout the last ten years proves quite categorically that its underlying founding
vision, to launch a new form of communication between Volkswagen and its customers with the aim of intensifying
the relationship both quantitatively as well as qualitatively, has proved successful. The Autostadt has continued
to develop from its beginnings as an innovative experiential world concentrating on mobility as its theme and has,
in the course of its existence, established itself as one of Germany’s leading tourism destinations”.
The Volkswagen Group’s decision in the mid-90s to build the Autostadt in Wolfsburg was an endorsement of the
Group’s geographical headquarters. The Autostadt served to introduce a new approach as far as service excellence
was concerned to what was then a mono-structural and industrial community. At the same time it promoted further
investment in regional leisure and industrial facilities as well as in the hotel and the catering industry with
the result that Wolfsburg is now a place that offers a most attractive range of services. Because the Autostadt
employs around 1,500 people, it is one of the biggest employers in Wolfsburg thereby making a significant
contribution to employment in the region.
Tourism magnet: the Autostadt has put Wolfsburg onto the tourist map
If in the early years the Autostadt, as a new and definitive leisure destination, was especially popular
within the region, over the years it has developed not only into a sought-after travel destination for people
from all over Germany, but has become the jewel in the crown of Lower Saxony’s tourism industry and its largest
single destination. According to visitor statistics, it is in second place as Germany’s most popular experiential
Internationally too the Volkswagen Group’s communication’s platform is seen as a particularly interesting and
unique leisure and automobile park. The German National Tourism Board, the Federal Republic’s primary marketing
arm, promotes the Autostadt as one of Germany’s top ten tourism destinations. Built by Volkswagen to mark the
EXPO2000 in Hanover, it will be represented in its tenth year in the context of a World Exposition at the EXPO2010
in Shanghai. The German Pavilion alone estimates international visitor figures of around eight million: the
Autostadt here represents the tourism motifs of the state of Lower Saxony.
Autostadt as a vital function in Volkswagen’s sales network
Right from the outset one of the most important visitor groups consisted of people who had come to collect
their new vehicles. The strengthening of ties between Volkswagen the manufacturer and its customers is one of the
Autostadt’s key concerns and has become central to the organisation. Since opening over 1.4 million new cars,
which is an average of 30% of the German private customer market, have been handed over in the KundenCenter
(Customer Centre) which means that with around 550 vehicles per day it is the largest car distribution centre
in the world. The Autostadt therefore plays a vital part in nurturing customer loyalty and is instrumental in
fostering a direct relationship between the brand and the company.
In addition to developing customer loyalty, the Autostadt’s primary function was to attract potential new
customers. By bringing to life the many and diverse themes dealing with human mobility in exhibitions and events
the Autostadt has succeeded (with a market share of approximately 40% of drivers of competitor’s brands) to a
large extent in introducing potential customers to the Group’s products in a sympathetic and informal way. Regular
market research has shown that approximately 20% of Autostadt visitors intend buying a new vehicle in the
foreseeable future. More than 10,000 annual decisions to purchase determines that the Autostadt is the largest
single place worldwide where new car buying decisions are made in favour of the Group’s products.
Child- and family-friendly attractions draw diverse visitor groups
Approximately 80% of all Autostadt attractions have either been completely renewed or refurbished. New
attractions, a variety of events and updated development of content like the cultural and educational offers or
new exhibitions like “Level Green – the concept of sustainability” keep visitors’ fascinated, awaken public
interest thereby extending Volkswagen’s customer base. Many target groups are addressed including car enthusiasts
who are automatically drawn to the ZeitHaus – the most visited automobile museum in the world – those interested
in art and culture, individuals and groups who come for the extraordinary events that the Autostadt stages, those
who take advantage of the special children’s- and family offers and those who enjoy first-class restaurants. The
seven years of the Movimentos Festival Weeks, which was founded in 2003 as an international dance and cultural
festival, alone has brought more than 200,000 visitors to the Autostadt.
Some 75,000 annual-ticket holders, who visit the park several times a year, attest to the loyalty guests feel
towards the Autostadt. At the same time it manages to attract people who have not been before so that the
percentage of first-timers, which after 10 years of existence stands at around 40%, ensures a constant stream of
visitors. In addition to the strong regional popularity, over half of the guests come from out of state: about
43% of visitors come from within a radius of 100 kilometres of Wolfsburg, 33% travel up to four hours to get
there and 24% undertake a trip of over four hours to experience the Autostadt. In comparison to the early years,
and as a result of the versatile extended offers, the average length of a visit has risen from four to six
The progressive strategic extension of child- and family-friendly attractions which include educationally
based performance, art and cultural offers and the Autostadt’s accredited education department with its diverse
educational content from kindergarten to seniors, have found much favour with visitors and are most
Ongoing development to provide an exciting family destination has resulted in visitor figures of people who
come with either their children or grandchildren rising from 40% to 62%. In 2009 196,000 guests alone made use
of the educational offers.
High quality service as key to success
A cornerstone of the Autostadt ethos has always rested on the highest quality of service as it pertains to
all its offers: from the way it treats its guests on its grounds, to the organically certified Autostadt
restaurants and the multiple award winning five-star hotel “The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg” with its three
Michelin-Star restaurant AQUA. This dedication has been applauded by its visitors: overall satisfaction of
all guests participating in Autostadt offers has reached a peak of 95%. Satisfaction levels for car
collection and “experiential day” as a whole, reached a record figure of 97%.
“Today the Autostadt is acknowledged as the “prototype” of automobile experiential worlds. As such it
has set the benchmark for the continued rediscovery of the theme of automobility, of developing it and making
it accessible and up-to-date. The healthy visitor response therefore both challenges and motivates us to
engage with, and develop, new ideas creatively in the future,” commented Wachs.