VW plant sets new full-year record

ON THE BALL: The Volkswagen Group SA plant in Uitenhage ended 2019 on a high note, achieving an all-time record for production in a single year
ON THE BALL: The Volkswagen Group SA plant in Uitenhage ended 2019 on a high note, achieving an all-time record for production in a single year
Image: SUPPLIED

Despite a tense wage negotiation period and a strike at the Port of Ngqura, Volkswagen SA ended 2019 on a high note with an all-time production record for a single year.

The Uitenhage plant managed to manufacture 161,954 vehicles, surpassing the previous record of 137,758 achieved in 2011.

This is the highest production volume the plant has achieved since it began manufacturing Volkswagen vehicles in 1951.

VWSA chair  and MD Thomas Schaefer said the achievement was testament to the efficiency, commitment and excellence shown by the employees.

“The production volume we achieved in 2019 is an important milestone for VWSA,” he said.

“I am grateful to every contribution they made in 2019 to reach this impressive number, and I look forward to more successes in the year ahead.”

Of the 161,954 vehicles, 108,422 were manufactured for export and 53,532 were produced for the local market.

The production volume consists of 131,365 Polos and 30,589 Polo Vivos.

Vehicle production at the plant was forced to slow down dramatically in July 2019, with shifts cancelled and staff sent home due to a strike at the Port of Ngqura.

The go-slow by Transnet staff, which lasted for about two weeks, resulted in VWSA falling short of its daily target of 680 units by 400 at the time.

The go-slow saw exports and imports hit hard by massive delays at the container terminal.

Then in September, Numsa and SA’s seven vehicle manufacturers managed to break a deadlock and signed a three-year wage agreement after tense negotiations.

The agreement included a 9% increase for the first year and 7% for the second and third years, or what the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is at the time, whichever is higher. 

The company also improved on its record for the highest production volume in a single month in October 2019.

The VWSA plant also produced 16,453 vehicles, exceeding the previous record set exactly in October 2009, when the plant manufactured 15,131 units in one month.

Meanwhile, vehicle sales figures for 2019 continued the downward trajectory experienced since 2013, with the exception of 2017, where there was a marginal year-on-year increase.

New vehicle sales declined by 15,601 units (2.8%) from 552,227 units in 2018 to 536,626 in 2019.

The only segment to grow in 2019 was medium commercials, which was up 10.5%.

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