It’s more than just an assembly plant. The Transparent Factory is Volkswagen’s pride and Joy, a €186 million ($202 million) prestige project that produces the automaker’s most expensive vehicle. The basic version of the Phaeton luxury sedan costs €90,000, though buyers are normally looking at six figures.
During times of crisis, however, there’s little room for prestige. Volkswagen faces the biggest crisis in its 78-year history.
The automaker has put aside €6.7 billion to deal with the fallout from systematically cheating U.S. regulators on diesel emissions. Moody’s has put the total cost of the scandal at €40 billion, while Credit Suisse estimates a cost of €78 billion in its worst-case scenario.
Volkswagen posted a third-quarter loss of €3.5 billion for the first time in more than 20 years. Stocks have plummeted by 37 percent since the scandal broke in September.
Given the difficult times, the automaker’s leadership is now mulling what should be done with its castle made of glass, located in the heart of Dresden. The Phaeton, the only car the plant produces in any significant number, was never a best seller by any stretch of the imagination.