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"Team spirit counts"

This year, Volkswagen apprentices will once again build a special GTI for the Wörthersee meeting.

At the photo session at the Wolfsburg plant, the bodywork is still mostly hidden from view, but a few details are already identifiable – including the White Silver Metallic paint. As a vehicle painter in training, Marie-Kristin Schildwächter knows what goes into selecting the right paint. As an apprentice in her third year, she is participating in the project for the first time. “I had heard so much about the Wörthersee GTI in the past that of course I was extremely interested,” explains the 20-year-old. She is responsible for the painting of the exterior, as well as the painted parts on the interior, such as the decorative trim. But to present a perfect overall result at the end, one thing is needed more than anything: team spirit. “We all need to work very closely together and communicate effectively,” says Schildwächter. “But at the same time, it’s really fascinating to learn about other professions.”

For example, that of Florian Dimt. The 20-year-old moved to Wolfsburg from the Ore Mountains in eastern Germany especially for the Wörthersee project. “When I saw the apprentice GTI in the Wolfsburg Edition 2014, it was love at first sight,” he explains with a smile. “That’s why I simply had to be part of the project.” As an automotive mechatronics apprentice in his third year, Dimt is responsible for the chassis, the brake and exhaust system, and the exterior of the GTI. But he finds it fascinating to learn about all the other areas too. “It is a great feeling, being part of the team. I particularly enjoy experiencing the development process first-hand. And I like the exchange of knowledge and ideas between the team members and specialists.” Although tasks and focal points were allocated at the beginning, in the final spurt of the project, the team members are relying on one another: “Everyone helps everyone; team spirit counts,” says Dimt. He adds: “I’m so excited for the finished product – I’m already counting down the days.”

While Dimt takes care of the body kit, comprising add-on components such as the spoiler, rocker panels and the front and rear apron, Lena Volk is responsible for the interior. She is now in the second year of her apprenticeship in vehicle interior design, but discovered the project at the very beginning of her apprenticeship. “It is a great feeling how everyone in the team is needed. Without the others, the project cannot progress. Everyone shows what they can do.” To make the GTI interior one of a kind, the 21-year-old is designing the covers of the seats, the steering wheel and the gear levers. “It starts out as an idea, an approximate direction we want to head in. In the end, everyone wants to be happy with the result.” She is just as excited as her colleagues: “Our Wörthersee GTI 2018 is going to be great!”

Someone who has seen many Wörthersee GTIs is Project Manager Holger Schülke. He has managed the Wörthersee training project since 2013. “It is always incredible how motivated the apprentices are. And the end result is always a fantastic car.” The team he oversees has grown from year to year: For the first time, there are two office administrators involved, who are responsible for the schedule and budget. A total of 15 apprentices will travel to the Wörthersee meeting this year. In particular, visitors can look forward to the HiFi system and the digital features on board the apprentices’ GTI. But the rest is a secret – until the car is unveiled on 9 May at the Wörthersee in Kärnten.