THE GERMAN carmaker Volkswagen is marking 20 years since its arrival in Bratislava. In 1991, the Slovak government, carmaker BAZ and Volkswagen signed agreements preceding the start of what is now called Volkswagen Slovakia (VW SK) and since then the company has manufactured more than 2.5 million cars, 5 million gear boxes and 200 million components, becoming Slovakia’s biggest exporter.
Andreas Tostmann, the chief executive officer of VW SK, met Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič on August 31, 2011, to brief him about the company’s plans to assemble 400,000 cars in Bratislava next year. The company is adding to its current production of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) by launching production of the Up! model within its New Small Family of cars.
“This shows the trust we put into our investments,” Tostmann stated, as cited by the SITA newswire.
After his meeting with the VW SK representatives, President Gašparovič highlighted the importance of the carmaker to the country, saying that Volkswagen brought production to Slovakia and showed that it is capable of manufacturing the most advanced cars. He also positively evaluated the carmaker’s operations during the recent economic crisis and its plans for the future.
VW SK produced 94,600 vehicles during the first half of 2011, 45 percent more than during the same period of 2010. The company’s turnover rose 33.3 percent to €2.4 billion in the same period.
Serial production of the first Volswagen car in Bratislava, the VW Passat Variant, was launched in February 1992. The plant’s production palette gradually expanded over the years. In 1994 the VW Golf was added, as well as the VW Bora and VW Polo somewhat later. Production of SUVs started in 2002 with the VW Touareg and bodies for the Porsche Cayenne. The Audi Q7 model completed the palette of high-end SUVs in 2005.
SEAT cars, specifically the Ibiza model, were assembled in Bratislava between 2003 and 2005 and VW SK manufactured Škoda Octavias between 2008 and 2010. In 2010, the Bratislava-based plant was the first of Volkswagen’s 61 plants to start production of the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid.
After VW SK launches production of its New Small Family cars under the VW, Škoda and SEAT brands, VW SK will become the only plant in the world with five brands produced under one roof, said Vladimír Machalík, VW SK spokesperson, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
In 1991 VW SK employed 112 people. The current labour force exceeds 7,000 people, with the prospect of even more being hired once production of the Up! model begins – it is expected to add 1,500 jobs in total.
Machalík said VW SK is currently Slovakia’s biggest exporter, with more than 99 percent of its production exported to 148 countries. VW SK’s share of Slovakia’s total exports in 2010 was 8.2 percent.
5. Sep 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff