On 6 March, Volkswagen South Africa celebrated the production of the 1,250,000th Polo at its factory in Uitenhage. Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa joined in the celebrations, together with employees and management of the vehicle assembly line.
Local and international markets
The South African Volkswagen plant which is 1,000km from Johannesburg builds both the current fifth-generation Polo, Cross Polo and its entry-level sister, the Polo Vivo, which is based on the 2005-2009 facelifted fourth-generation Polo. Uitenhage Polos are produced for local and international markets, with some right-hand drive models exported to the UK.
Polo Vivo meanwhile is an African-only model, introduced in 2010 to replace the Citi Golf. From December 2016, Kenya joined Uitenhage as a production facility and the car is sold in both countries. Both Polo and Polo Vivo have been the best-selling passenger cars in South Africa for the past seven years.
The 518,912 square-metre Uitenhage plant is a Volkswagen ‘Think Blue’ sustainable-initiative factory, and employs 4,000 people. In 2015 it built 120,000 Polo, Cross Polo, and Polo Vivo cars, in addition to 113,000 1.4 and 1.6-litre ‘EA111’-series engines for consumption by the whole VW group. Fifty-five per cent of the vehicles produced at Uitenhage in 2015 were exported.