Unlike other Volkswagen passenger cars, the Sharan large minivan has sliding doors on each side of the vehicle for the rear passengers. Despite obvious advantages - such as requiring less space when opening the doors - such a design is usually only found on commercial vehicles. The reason is that manual sliding doors often require more effort to open and close than a regular door.
Germany's Edscha Group overcame this problem by developing roller carriages specifically designed to facilitate door movement.
Edscha's design also results in less noise when opening and closing than from conventional sliding doors. The German supplier ships the parts from its facility in Santander, Spain, marking the first time the company has produced a sliding door specifically for the passenger-car market.
Edscha also contributes the striker that secures the open sliding door and the stop buffer that further reduces noise associated with door movement. Furthermore, Edscha produces the Sharan's hinges in Hengersberg, Germany, and door checks for the minivan's conventional front doors at its plant in Hauzenberg, Germany.
ArvinMeritor Inc. provides the Sharan's sunroof. The optional fit is 300 percent larger than a standard sunroof, VW says.
Peguform GmbH produces the Sharan's front and rear bumpers, radiator grille and assembles and delivers the front-end module just-in-sequence to VW's plant in nearby Setubal, Portugal.
The second-generation Sharan shares its platform with the new Seat Alhambra. Both vehicles are assembled at the VW Group's AutoEuropa plant near Lisbon. VW plans to make 50,000 Sharans and 27,000 Alhambras a year. Sharan prices start from 28,875 euros (about $40,000 dollars) in Germany.
Volkswagen launched the new Sharan at the 2010 Geneva auto show last March. The large minivan came available from launch with a choice of four TSI gasoline direct-injection engines and four TDI diesels. The Sharan's main rivals include the Ford Galaxy, Peugeot 807 and Renault Grand Espace.