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Models and Technology

T-Cross: From Anting to Curitiba

This SUV in the Polo class is launching on three continents. Christoph Merten from the pilot hall in Wolfsburg is responsible for ensuring technical feasibility 
at the Anting site in China and working on building bridges to Brazil.

Curitiba in Brazil, Anting in China, Pamplona in Spain: all sites belonging to the brand but separated by thousands of miles across three continents. But there is one thing that connects the three plants, and that’s the fact that the employees are all getting ready for the new T-Cross. In fact, Pamplona is kicking its series production off this year as the flagship plant. This will then be followed by Curitiba in Brazil and Anting in Shanghai, China. To ensure it all runs smoothly, Christoph Merten has been working at the Anting plant for well over a year now.

The 35-year-old industrial engineer has been working in the Wolfsburg pilot hall for over five years. Now that he’s in Anting, his role involves making sure that the T-Cross is manufactured just the way it should be – right the way down to the final shell. To this end, he is also involved in prototype construction. But his primary responsibility is to oversee the technical feasibility of the new SUV, starting with virtual models on the computer before moving onto the production line. Christoph explains, “Our team of two Germans and seven Chinese people is responsible for every aspect of the vehicle. I coordinate everything as far as point 5 and oversee the T-Cross until it moves on from the shell phase to the paint shop.

China is by no means unknown territory for Christoph, as this is the third time he has been to the country in connection with the T-Cross project. He was 
in Anting four years ago with the Phideon and later visited Changsha in the south with the Touran. After a quick pit stop in Wolfsburg – when he became a father in 2016 – he soon set off again with his wife and child in tow. “We love being on the move and it’s fun to experience all the different cultures.” The Merten family really enjoys life in Shanghai. “It’s like being in another world, but if you keep an open mind then it’s a really comfortable way of life,” explains Brandenburg-born Christoph, who joined Volkswagen in 2008. Christoph is not just Mr. T-Cross at the pilot hall in Anting: he’s also in the process of building a bridge to the series production launch of the SUV in Curitiba. There’s lots going on at the Anchieta site, a good 440 kilometers to the north of Curitiba, as this is where the Technical Development team is preparing the T-Cross product for series production and manufacturing the prototypes for Curitiba.

Anting

Over 19,000 employees work at the Anting site in Shanghai, with three plants dedicated to Volkswagen and Škoda models including the New Lavida, Gran Lavida, Tiguan and Phideon. Founded in 
1984, the plant belonging to the 
Shanghai Automotive Industry (SAIC) also manufactures engines.


Christoph often finds himself flying between China and Brazil. Either that or he takes part in video conference calls at least once a week. This level of contact helps prevent both mistakes and duplication of effort. After all, if things are going well in Anting, then there might be a good solution available for Curitiba, too. And the other way around. This allows Christoph to establish potential synergies for the T-Cross as it makes its way onto the production lines at two sites on two continents.

Pamplona

Just under 5,000 employees work 
at the Pamplona plant, home of the Polo. It was in 1982 that 
Polo production began at the factory in northern Spain.

Curitiba

The Curitiba plant in São José 
dos Pinhais is the newest 
Volkswagen plant in Brazil. 
Over 2,700 employees manufacture the Fox, CrossFox, Golf, Audi A3 sedan and Q3 at the site in the state of Paraná.