September 26, 2014 (Day 3)
– 5:45am wake up
– 6:30am breakfast in Hotel Schlossgarten
– 7:30am taxi to Porsche New Car Delivery
– 8:15am See new car!
– 11:00am lunch at Porsche
– 1:00pm Porsche Factory Tour
– 3:15pm On the road towards Bietigheim-Bissingen
– Walk around park and river
– Dinner in town at Lamabar
– Asleep by 9p/9:30p
Weather: sunny, highs in the 70s, cool enough for a fleece at night.
It’s new car day!!! We’ve been waiting for this day since May when we ordered the car in Houston. Mark is very ready to get his new car.
We were impressed that we slept all the way until the 5:45am alarm. Mark was up for about an hour in the middle of the night, but for the most part we completely crashed for 9 or 10 hours of sleep. It felt so good to get sleep in. Breakfast at the hotel was very good. They had a variety of foods including hot foods, breads, fruits, yogurts, meats, and cheeses. We also had a selection of juices and teas. We packed up all our stuff and headed down to catch the taxi to the Porsche New Car Delivery. We could have easily taken the train over, but since Porsche gave us the free taxi voucher, we figured we might as well use it. Plus it was easy this way so we didn’t have to lug the bags all over. Plus, the cab driver knew exactly where to drop us off.
We went inside and after a brief wait because we were early, we signed the paperwork and were escorted upstairs to the showroom floor where all the new vehicles for delivery were laid out. It was super easy to spot ours as it was the only blue one! They will deliver about 20 cars today to new owners. We were given the next hour for a detailed tour of how the car worked.
Oh, and of course we got our official picture taken with the car:
We had never even seen the 2015 model before, so many things were new. This is the first model with keyless entry, so that was the first thing we learned about. To open the front and back trucks, we hold our hand over a certain location and the trunk will pop open. Yes, a front trunk! How strange! And the ignition is still turned by a key of sorts. In addition to the key fob, there is a little dummy ignition fob that stays in the ignition. The key will only start the car when the fob is inside the car of course. I guess Porsche didn’t want to go the way of the start button like so many other cars. Also interesting to me was that you could set the seat and mirror memory direct to a specific key. The navigation system is very different from the one in our Prius, so it took some getting used to. Also, interestingly enough, there isn’t a new car smell. I wonder if that has to do with the high quality of materials they use. We will have to look that up.
Then, we had to take the car and drive it out of the building (some sharp corners to get out!!) and we had a time gap before our lunch appointment at 11:15. So, we decided to take the car for a short little spin. We couldn’t figure out where to go, but we managed to find ourselves in a tiny local park where we could get some photos of the car. Plus it was all sunny out! The car will never be this clean again!
Back to the Porsche factory, we parked in the lot designated to us and then walked over to their special 5th floor restaurant overlooking the Porsche intersection. We could see the factory, the museum and the dealership as we ate. And finally, we went to start our factory tour.
No photographs are allowed in the Porsche factory, and we had to give up all our smartphones before we could go on the tour. We had a small group for the English-speaking tour. Besides us, there were 5 others on the tour. One couple had just come back from a 7000km road trip with their new Porsche and one of the others had connections to Rice as his daughter goes there as did his wife.
The factory tour was amazing! I love assembly lines, efficiency, and factories. One of the most unique aspects of this assembly line was that the building was several stories high and so the cars had to move on an automated elevator between levels in order to move through the assembly line. This was probably the least efficient aspect of the factory and cannot be changed because there is so little land here for Porsche. About 200 cars are made in this factory each day and then are shipped out around the world. The cars come through the line with the models all mixed. You might have a Boxster, then a Carrera, then a Panamera, and a 911, etc. Also, each car assembly came down the line toting a cart with all its parts on it. Since each car could have 150 different options, it is faster for there to be a cart of parts specific to that vehicle rather than a slew of parts next to each station.
The parts are all gathered in a separate building. Someone receives the Porsche order and then goes “shopping” for all the parts for that car. In the aisle of parts, there is a green light that lights up next to each part that corresponds to the car they are working on. Then as the technician takes the part out of the bin, the part gets scanned leaving the bin and double checked that it is the right part. This way inventory is always up to date, and there is a checking process for each car’s parts. It was amazing. Once a technician has 3 carts of parts lined up, a robotic car comes and takes the carts away. These robotic cars are amazing. They are not on a specific track, but talk to all the other cars around it to navigate around. Cars with full parts will be given the right of way, and they even had turn signals to tell where they are going. Amazing!
Back in the assembly factory, there are robotic cars that drive around on a black track on the floor and will take parts to workers, or other supplies, or just in general haul things around. I could have stayed in the factory all day to watch how everything worked. Most assembly stations were manned by people and only a handful had automated robots to do the work. The windshield attachment was one station that was completely automated by a robot. One robot scanned the coming car frame for exact measurements, while another robot picked up the windshield and applied the glue. The first robot talked to the second robot and then the second robot applied the windshield in the exact right location.
But most stations had about 2-3 people working for 3-5 minutes per car to attach some specific part in assembly-line fashion. The engine part of the factory was very interesting as well! The whole drivetrain, wheels, and engine would be moving along a bottom line as workers were adding parts to the engine. Then the frame of the car would be moving at the same speed along a top conveyor system, and there was a “marriage” of the two big parts of the car. The drivetrain/engine would be married to the car frame and you’d have a full car.
The engines are all assembled on site and about 1% of them are hot-tested. Also, about 10% of the cars are road tested (about 30km). So if your Porsche comes from the factory with 30km on the odometer it was road tested. Ours had 9km on it. Also, we were not surprised to see that the most common color choice was black, followed by white, gray, then red and yellow.
We were sad to finish the tour, but happy to get into the new car. We are staying in a new hotel tonight a bit north of Stuttgart, but still in the general area. So, we drove about 30 minutes up to Bietigheim-Bissingen and easily found the Eberhards hotel right on the river of this small town. We found a parking spot within view of our room and reluctantly locked up and headed inside.
From here we decided we needed some exercise and it was a beautiful sunny day outside, with temps in the high 60s or about 70. So, we put on our running clothes and went for a long walk/run around the park and river that was just outside the hotel. Lots of people were out and about! We saw tons of people with strollers and kids or running with dogs, or out biking. What a perfect day it was.
When we got hungry, we came back to the hotel, showered, and then walked to the first restaurant in town we could find, the Lamabar. Yes, with 1 L and not 2 L’s. It was loud, but the food was good and we were tired. We ate and then dragged ourselves back to the room. We managed to stay up until about 9p or 9:30p before we crashed.
Sadly, though, I still have jetlag because I was awake from 2am – 5am. =( Thankfully, I went back to sleep at 5am. I did get to hear just how eerily quiet this small town was at 2 in the morning, though!
Tomorrow we officially start our road trip!