18 March 2013
Volkswagen Group South Africa officially opened a R500-million state-of-the-art press shop at its manufacturing plant in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape on Friday.
Hubert Waltl, Volkswagen Group SA’s board chairman, said the opening of the press shop “reiterates our commitment to Volkswagen South Africa and South Africa. It also marks the culmination of our investment in enhancing the position of Volkswagen South Africa as one of our key manufacturing plants within the Volkswagen production network.”
Volkswagen AG has invested over R5-billion in the modernisation of the Uitenhage plant over the past five years, making it one of the most energy-efficient plants in the southern hemisphere.
It is also the first in the world to install a press line that combines wave motion technology with Cobra robotics technology. Wave motion technology, jointly developed by Spanish firm Fagor and German firm Kuka, allows presses to cycle in a wave pattern, unlike conventional press lines in which presses cycle together.
The Cobra robot, named for their snake-like striking movement, moves parts through the press process much faster than conventional systems, leading to a 30% reduction in energy consumption.
According to the company, the new press shop is currently in “ramp up” phase and will be fully operational in July.
Volkswagen’s South African manufacturing plant produces right-hand drive Polo and CrossPolo passenger vehicles for the local and international markets, as well as the Polo Vivo for the South African market only. The Polo Vivo and Polo were South Africa’s best-selling passenger cars in 2012, with 34 873 and 28 667 sales respectively.
“Volkswagen Group South Africa ended 2012 as the market leader of the passenger car segment in South Africa for the fourth consecutive year, with total sales of 99 106 units and overall market share of 22.3%,” said Volkswagen Group South Africa MD David Powels.
“Polo Vivo and Polo accounted for 14.4% of the South African total passenger car market in 2012. This clearly indicates the significance of these two models, not only to us as Volkswagen but also to the South African passenger car market.”