In August 2022 the Porsche Leipzig factory celebrated its 20th anniversary. “Leipzig has become the second home of Porsche. The decision in 1999 to build a new factory in a green meadow north of the city of Leipzig took the company down a new path,” says Albrecht Reimold, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche Leipzig GmbH. “Since first breaking ground in February 2000, we have invested around 1.3 billion euros in the development of our Saxony location. Not for one second have we regretted this decision. The Leipzig team has proven itself time and again in new car projects through its know-how and commitment.”
“The Leipzig Porsche factory is gearing up for the future,” adds Gerd Rupp, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche Leipzig GmbH. “So far we have mastered all the challenges with team spirit, heart and soul. This is our recipe for success, which we want to maintain as we shape the future of the factory. The capability of producing three drivetrains on one line makes us very flexible.” Today, more than 4,300 people work at Porsche Leipzig, making it one of the biggest employers in the region.
Around 550 Porsche Macan and Panamera cars are built every day. Production takes place across the three lines of body shop, paint shop, and assembly. Porsche Leipzig factory production is characterised by transparent processes and consistent application of lean production principles, paired with the permanent reduction of raw materials, resources, and production resources, as well as a continuous improvement process to maintain high quality standards.
Body Shop Line
At the start of the body shop line, the body is assembled in four large sections from the bottom up. First, the complete underbody is assembled. This station is effectively the car’s birthplace, and where it is issued with its ‘birth certificate’: a transponder with a specific identification code of all the car’s details. Side panels and roof are then fitted onto the underbody. The third stop on the process chain adds doors, bonnet, and boot lid to the frame. At the end of the line there is an acceptance inspection of the car, during which inspectors carefully check joints, quality of the surface finish and gap dimensions. If all quality requirements are met, the car moves onto the paint shop.
At the start of the body shop line, the body is assembled in four large sections from the bottom up. First, the complete underbody is assembled. This station is effectively the car’s birthplace, and where it is issued with its “birth certificate”: a transponder with a specific identification code of all the car’s details. Side panels and roof are then fitted onto the underbody. The third stop on the process chain adds doors, bonnet, and boot lid to the frame. At the end of the line there is an acceptance inspection of the car, during which inspectors carefully check joints, quality of the surface finish and gap dimensions. If all quality requirements are met, the car moves onto the paint shop.
Cars show their true colours in the paint shop: the body passes through six phases in the paint shop. To start with, it is cleaned, degreased and dipped in a zinc phosphate solution to ensure proper adhesion of the corrosion protection that is subsequently applied in a process called cathodic dip coating. This process involves dipping the entire body into a tank of electrically conductive water-based dipping paint, wherein the car body itself is used as a cathode. With an application of 380 volts DC to the counter electrode, the solid particles in the paint are deposited onto the body’s surface by electrophoretic deposition, and adhere to it to form a continuous, even coating.
Welding seams and flanges are then sealed using special PVC materials, and the welding seams on the doors, bonnet and boot lid are sealed to prevent water ingress. An underbody seal is applied and only then is paint actually applied to the body: primer, base coat, and a clear finishing coat. The elastic primer protects the base coat against damage, as well as improving structure and subsequent lustre. The base coat is applied next, in the colour requested by the customer. Once that has dried, a clear coat finish is applied to seal the paint layers. The final inspection takes place in a special light tunnel fitted with energy-saving, flexible LED strips. The strip lighting is projected onto the body using continuously adjustable mirrors. Inspectors pinpoint even the tiniest flaws, which are then corrected.
In this final production section, the doors are removed to be completed on a separate line, while the interior is fitted into the body in a process that combines industrial assembly and manufacturing. After the interior has been installed, the assembled car moves to a new means of transport: up to this point, a lifting station has been used, but it is now replaced by an overhead rotation unit that is used when fitting the brakes and fuel tank, enabling ergonomic working conditions for the fitters. The car moves through the exterior line next, on a lifting station again – this one with adjustable height to facilitate ergonomic working. For example, the exterior line handles fitting of the windscreen, rear window, main headlights, and seats. It is also where the doors are refitted and the famous Porsche badge attached.
The next step brings the biggest moment in a car’s assembly: the marriage. Marriage is the term used to describe the fully automated process where the body is joined to the finished driveline. After the engine wiring harness is fitted, the final stages are taken care of on the final assembly line – such as filling with fuel, brake fluid, coolant, and screen wash. The wheels are also fitted at this point. The final assembly cycles consist of starting, testing, and a last inspection of the car. Following a test drive, final acceptance testing is performed, and the car leaves the assembly plant. Key quality assurance steps include the audit, during which cars of all models are randomly subjected to a more in-depth inspection. The cars are delivered around the world, with 75 per cent of cars from the Porsche Leipzig factory transported by rail – powered exclusively by renewable energy to help protect the environment.