21 May 2020 ~ 0 Comments

21 May 1990: the first Polo rolls off the line at Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory

Now the jewel in Volkswagen’s electric vehicle production crown, the company’s Zwickau factory is home to the first model in the era of ‘new Volkswagen’, the ID 3. However, three decades ago, the first Volkswagen to roll off the production line at the former East German factory in the Mosel region was a Polo.

The DM17,410 Alpine White Polo CL ‘DDR’ (Deutsche Demokratik Republik, East Germany) built on 21 May 1990 was the first of 2,525 Zwickau-assembled Polos that year. Initial Polo production got underway at the rate of 50 units per day, built from ‘knock-down’ kits. Fitted with a catalytic converter and a 1272cc, 55bhp four-cylinder engine, a total of 17,978 Polos were built at Zwickau until February 1991, when the car’s place on the production line was replaced by the second-generation Golf.

Communist-era car
A former Trabant factory, Volkswagen’s takeover of the Zwickau plant was completed in on 26 September 1990. The little communist-era German car born in 1957 had enjoyed a more modern engine during 1989-1990 with the fitment of the 1093 cc unit from the second-generation Polo, and so Volkswagen thought it made sense to build the small Volkswagen in East Germany, too. The cleaner-powered ‘Trabi’ began to banish its noisy, smoky, and two-stroke reputation in favour of a more environmentally-friendly image. Before the Trabant chapter in the Zwickau story, there are more links back to the Volkswagen Group was we know it today. Horch founder August Horch settled in the city in 1904, and brought with him the brand that bared his name, as well as Audi, DKW, and Auto Union.

The second-generation Polos built at Zwickau were identical to those coming off the lines at Volkswagen’s ‘home’ plant in Wolfsburg. Based on the first-generation Polo’s chassis, a very different body ensured that there was no mistaking the new car for the old. Styled like a small estate car, the second-generation Polo had improved engines, more practical features, and increased comfort. Clever ‘Formel E’ versions pioneered some of the BlueMotion technology enjoyed by more recent Volkswagens.

All-electric offensive
Fittingly, the factory which once produced a much cleaner range of Polos, is not spearheading Volkswagen’s all-electric offensive. The new ID 3, the company’s first purpose-designed, electric hatchback goes is available to order now, and the first examples silently emerged from the plant in November 2019. Marked by a lavish opening ceremony attended by German chancellor Angela Merkel, the factory now solely produces fully electric vehicles. The ID 4 SUV will be the next new car to roll off the lines.

Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, as the factory is now known, now employs over 10,000 people at three locations, a massive increase on the 500 staff when that first Polo was built there in May 1990. A phased €1.2 billion e-mobility manufacturing transformation of the Zwickau factory will see a total of six all-electric models produced at the plant from 2021, with cars from Audi and SEAT added to the pair of ‘new era’ VWs.

Highly automated production lines
A total of 330,000 vehicles will be produced annually by the highly automated production lines, and it won’t be the first time other Volkswagen Group cars will have been made at the Mosel factory: bodies and chassis of Bentleys have been made there since 2001, with those of the Lamborghini Urus joining them in 2017. The luxurious Phaeton also had its bodies built at the historic former East German plant. The Polo may have played a small part in the Volkswagen Zwickau story, but being the first car to roll off the line wearing the fabled VW roundel, its role was a very important one. It helped established a vital grounding for what will now be a blueprint for Volkswagen factories of the future.

Update: the Zwickau factory produced its final internal combustion-engined car on 26 June 2020. Since 1990, a total of 6,049,207 Volkswagen cars have been produced at the plant, and the final petrol-engined car was an Oryx White Pearl Effect Golf R Estate. As well as the Polo, Golf, Golf Estate, Passat and Passat Estate models have also rolled off the Zwickau production lines. The ID 3 which replaces all of them at the factory, will also be produced at Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Dresden from 2021.

MOSEL MILESTONES: THE LIFE AND CARS OF ZWICKAU

1904
10 May
August Horch moves his company to Zwickau, and establishes A. Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG.


1957
Trabant production starts at the Zwickau factory, now named VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke.

1990
21 May
First ‘GDR’ Volkswagen produced.
August Trabant production ends (Trabants fitted with Volkswagen Polo engines from 1989).
26 September Ground broken for new automobile factory.
12 December Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH formed.

1991
15 February
Volkswagen Golf production starts in a new purpose-built factory.
October 20,000th Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

1992
23 July
Third-generation Volkswagen Golf production begins.
September 100,000th Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

1993
September
Volkswagen Golf Ecomatic production starts exclusively at Zwickau.

1994
February
All-electric Volkswagen Golf CitySTOMER production begins.
August 250,000th Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

1996
Volkswagen Passat joins Golf on the production line.

1998
Annual production capacity reaches 250,000 vehicles.

1999
9 July
One millionth Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

2001
Bentley and Volkswagen Phaeton bodies enter production.

2003
One millionth Volkswagen Passat produced at Zwickau.

2005
Zwickau Volkswagen Golf production reaches one million.

2016

Volkswagen Phaeton body production ends, Bentley Bentayga body production starts.

2017
Lamborghini Urus body production starts.

2018
Transformation to an e-vehicle production hub begins, with a 1.2 billion euro investment. From 2022, 330,000 electric cars will be produced at Zwickau, including six models for three brands: Volkswagen, Audi and SEAT.

2019
4 November
Volkswagen ID 3 pre-production begins, with the build goal of 1,500 units per day.

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13 April 2018 ~ 0 Comments

Polo now plugs in to Volkswagen Connect system as standard

2018 Volkswagen Polo SE + DataPlug

The Volkswagen Connect DataPlug and smartphone app-based connectivity system is now standard on all new Polo and Up models. It allows drivers to access a range of information about their car and journeys, and was launched in the UK during 2017. The system can be retro-fitted free of charge on Volkswagens built after 2007.

Used with the Volkswagen ID personal digital account, the system has already been installed in tens of thousands of cars, and offers many of the benefits of Volkswagen’s high-end Car-Net system. The DataPlug and app are linked together via Bluetooth: the car sends the user’s smartphone a burst of information at the end of each journey. Once connected, the driver can interact with their Volkswagen in seven key areas.

Fuel-efficiency tips
The ‘Trips’ function records information about each journey, including the distance driven. Along with the ‘Fuel Monitor’, it gives an accurate journey cost by comparing fuel consumption with the cost of the fuel in the car. The ‘Driving Style’ option can also save drivers money by way of fuel-efficiency tips.

The ‘My Volkswagen’ area can notify of the vehicle’s fuel level, and the likely date of the car’s next service can also be ascertained. The ‘Service Partner’ function automatically alerts when the service is due, and if set up to do so, will also contact the nominated Volkswagen Retailer, who will then call to arrange a service.

If a dashboard warning light is illuminated, the Volkswagen Connect app notify the local VW Retailer, who can then call the driver of the car to discuss the problem. Helpfully, the app will explain in plain English what the warning light means.

Urgent assistance
If more urgent assistance is needed, the Volkswagen Customer Service Centre or a roadside assistance service can be contacted via the ‘Volkswagen Connect Assistance Call’ function, and the location of the car can also be shared if the driver chooses. Elsewhere, ‘The Parking Space’ section of the app records the exact location of the car when it is parked, as well as the exact duration.

The ‘My Challenges’ feature meanwhile is a game that rewards drivers with points, depending on their driving style. Safe and efficient driving tasks can also be accomplished to win virtual trophies, and Volkswagen Connect users can compare their scores with other VW drivers.

The DataPlug can also be transferred from compatible Volkswagen to Volkswagen, a benefit which is also of use for fleets where drivers may have access to more than one Volkswagen vehicle. Volkswagen states that up to 300,000 Volkswagen Connect DataPlugs will be fitted to compatible vehicles in 2018.

Find out more by visiting the Volkswagen Connect pages which have been added to the ‘owners’ section of volkswagen.co.uk.

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16 August 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Polo 1.2-litre TDI included in
latest Volkswagen EA189 engine recall

Volkswagen 1.2-litre EA189 TDI engine

Volkswagen has received approval from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for the ‘technical solution’ of models fitted with the 1.2-litre EA189 TDI engine embroiled in the ‘Dieselgate’ issue, first announced in September 2015.

460,000 vehicles recalled
Over 460,000 vehicles which have the three-cylinder engine installed will be recalled, including fifth-generation Polo BlueMotion ‘6R’ models built from 2009-2014. Autocar reports that in the UK, 18,018 Polos are affected. Selected SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia models will also have to be taken back to local retailers to receive the fix.

Just a software update, owners of affected cars will be contacted and instructed to take their vehicle to an authorised retailer have the update applied free of charge. Owners should receive two letters – the first stating that the car is affected, the second instructing to make an appointment for the update. All cars which need the remedial work remain safe to safe drive.

No effect on performance
The KBA has agreed that the fix should have no effect on affected vehicles’ fuel consumption, noise levels or performance, and that the vehicles will fulfil all statutory requirements once they have had the software update applied. Volkswagen has stated that it is ‘continuing to put every effort into implementing the technical solutions and will correct all vehicles affected by the NOx issue’.

The latest Volkswagen EA189 engine ‘modification’ follows the roll-out of the 2.0-litre EA189 TDI fix, which started at the beginning of 2016. Arguably the largest group of engines affected by ‘Dieselgate’ – the cluster of 1.6-litre EA189 TDI units – has yet to be called in for a remedial fix.

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05 August 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Volkswagen Group to roll-out particulate filters for petrol-engined cars

2016 Volkswagen Polo TSI BMT badge

A standard fitment on diesel cars, proven to reduce harmful NOx emissions, particulate filters will be fitted to petrol-engined Volkswagens from 2017, the company has announced. It claims that emissions of soot particles from direct injection petrol engines can be cut by up to 90 per cent. The ‘gasoline particulate filters’ (GPF) will be employed on Volkswagen Group cars powered by TSI and TFSI drivetrains.

The first model fitted with the new technology will be the 1.4-litre TSI derivative of the Tiguan*, due to arrive in June 2017. The Volkswagen Group predicts that up to 7 million vehicles could use the technology by 2022, which includes the new, sixth-generation Polo which will be introduced sometime next year and feature myriad turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.

‘Sustained reduction in emissions’
Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, Head of Group Research and Development said: ‘Following increases in efficiency and lower CO2 output, we are now bringing about a sustained reduction in the emission levels of our modern petrol engines by fitting particulate filters as standard.’

Even though exhaust gas treatment systems can be costly, diesel engine emissions will still be worked on, too, especially in light of the ‘Dieselgate’ crisis which was first discovered in September 2015. ‘In the future, all models will be equipped with the latest and most efficient Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalytic converter technology,’ stated Eichhorn.

Related to the recent announcement, independent testing body Emission Analytics rated the Volkswagen Group the cleanest performer in its EQUA Air Quality Index. Comparative measurements were used, and the Volkswagen Group was ranked first in three categories: EU 6 petrol engine, EU 5 petrol engine and EU 6 hybrid vehicles.

*Tiguan 1.4 TSI fuel consumption in l/100km: 6.9-5.7 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 155-139 (combined); Efficiency class: C-B.

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02 March 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Polo-sized Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze SUV unveiled at 2016 Geneva motor show

2016 Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze

At the start of this week’s Geneva motor show, Volkswagen unveiled a new model at the Swiss expo which leads a ‘broad offensive’ of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) from the German brand. The T-Cross Breeze (yes, we know, a silly name), the soft-top is an unexpected punch to launch, according to Head of Design Klaus Bischoff, ‘New Volkswagen’.

While the T-Cross Breeze solicited ‘copycat Range Rover Evoque Convertible’-type comments from the motoring press – and there’s no denying there is a similarity – what’s more important is that underneath the T-Cross Breeze is rumoured to be a version of the new ‘A0’ small car version of the Volkswagen Group’s ‘MQB’ platform.

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