The VW assembly plant in Kariega, formerly known as Uitenhage, produced its 400,000th current-generation Polo on 21 June 2021.
“By the time the 400,000th Polo rolled off the production line on Monday morning, the plant had produced a total of 61,635 Polos and 10,373 Polo Vivos this year,” said the company.
“This achievement comes less than four years after the plant began manufacturing the current Polo model in September 2017.”
Out of the 400,000 vehicles produced, 73,786 units were destined for South Africa – with the remaining 326,414 exported to right-hand-drive markets across the globe.
“VW South Africa also supplements production for left-hand-drive markets,” said the company.
“This is a proud moment for our team, who have proven their dedication to delivering for our customers abroad and in South Africa,” said Ulrich Schwabe, production director at VW South Africa.
The VW Kariega Plant was established in 1946, on a 520,000m² plot in the Eastern Cape.
According to VW, more than half – 294,713m² – of the large factory’s grounds consist of production facilities.
By 1959 the factory had produced 25,000 vehicles, with that number climbing to 50,000 only a year later.
In 1972 the site was expanded by purchasing an additional 96 hectares, and in 1974 VWSA became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagenwerk AG – renaming itself to Volkswagen South Africa.
The one-millionth VW then rolled off the Kariega production line in 1987.
In 2006, the facility opened a R750-million paint shop, and 2011 saw a world-first press shop installed that used both wave motion and robotic arm technologies.
The press shop allowed the production line to operate 30% more efficient than with previous methods, as well as produce certain sets of critical parts.
In September 2019, two years after commencing production on the new Polo range, the Kariega plant produced the 200,000th unit.
In 2021, VW Kariega produces mechanical components for the global market, as well as the popular Polo range.
Photos of the VW Kariega plant are shown below.