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Production Sites

Guardians of the secret

No prototype goes on a test drive without first stopping off at the camouflage workshop in the Wolfsburg plant. This is where covers are either put over or stuck onto the prototypes.

Using a “scraper”, Christian Lehner smooths the camouflage foil over the T-Roc’s engine hood.

When Volkswagen presents the T-Roc to the international public on August 23, thesecrecy will finally be at an end – and Christian Lehner’s duties will have been accomplished once again. Together with his colleagues at Group Security, the prototype camouflager has been responsible for shielding the new Volkswagen SUV from curious glances over the last few months. “We want to maintain the suspense until the world premiere,” Lehner says. The less that’s revealed about the car now, the greater the wow effect for both journalists and customers.

Lehner, on the other hand, has already known for months what the new T-Roc looks like. “As soon as the first prototype emerges, we start to think about protection,” says Lehner (50). In the very early phase of testing, plastic parts are initially used to cover up the design and technology, both inside and outside the vehicle. Later, tailor-made camouflage aprons are put over the cars. In the final phase of testing, the prototypes are covered with a black and white patterned foil. “This confuses the eye and conceals the contours of the vehicle,” says camouflage expert Lehner. The foil is specially produced for Volkswagen and is so heat-resistant that even during test drives in the desert it can withstand the sun.

Sticking the camouflage onto the cars is still done meticulously by hand and takes a whole day. Good camouflage is one thing, complying with regulations concerning the handling of prototypes is another, says Steffen Springer, who is in charge of T-Roc issues at Group Security. For example, it is not allowed to park camouflaged cars in a supermarket parking lot. “In a place such as that, even the best camouflage in the world would be useless.”

 

Lehner and Springer are not (yet) willing to divulge what they personally like best about the T-Roc. They do not want to reveal anything at all that could be used to extract information about the SUV before the world premiere. They will only say that it is a fantastic car. “It has been worth the effort to protect the car so carefully.”