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Waffle irons and joints

Ten years of plant tours for kids at Wolfsburg – the woman who was there at the start still drives them around. Janine Ehrlich helps the young visitors understand through comparisons with daily life.

Janine Ehrlich (above) shows girls and boys from the Volkswagen school vacation program how a robot functions. She was also the model for a comic book.

How does a press shop function? A bit like a waffle iron. And a robot? It operates using its joints, a bit like an arm. For the past ten years, visitor service staff in the Wolfsburg plant have been using comparisons like these to give children a better understanding of the world of Volkswagen.

The tours for kindergarten-aged and primary school children are celebrating a ten-year birthday.
The woman who first prepared the tours is still conducting them today. Janine Ehrlich uses child-friendly ways of explaining how a Golf, Touran, and Tiguan are made. There is a lot of demand for the tours. Around 13,000 girls and boys have been given a glimpse of the Volkswagen world over the last ten years, and often amazed even parents who work at the plant with their new-found knowledge.

» The kids are usually extremely excited, but quickly put their trust in you and occasionally even cuddle up to you. «

During general visitors’ tours, Janine Ehrlich had realized that using the same way of speaking to adults and children just wouldn’t work. She then conceived of special events for guests between the ages of four and ten – always asking herself: How can you explain Volkswagen so that they understand everything and have fun looking around the plant? “I think we found a good method,” Ehrlich says. She started out in vehicle body construction in 1998 before joining visitor services three years later.

The 39-year old is proud of how her “baby” has grown with the support of colleagues such as Gessi Maimone and Bettina Bickel, and she still loves the tours with the young visitors. “The kids are usually extremely excited, but quickly put their trust in you and occasionally even cuddle up to you. Their joy is always authentic,” says Ehrlich. She shows pictures that girls and boys painted especially for her. Some of them show robots called Emily and Knufi. They have a real sweetness to them, just like the Bobby comic book which helps explain the Volkswagen world to children. In a leading comic-book role: Janine Ehrlich as she explains how a Golf is made in the press shop, body construction, paintshop, and assembly.