Volkswagen India will open its new plant in Chakkan, Pune, one year ahead than originally planned and initially start production of the Skoda Fabia.

"The opening ceremony will be held in spring next year with the plant having a production capacity of 110,000 vehicles a year. We will start production in small quantities initially and will rapidly increase output", VW India communications head Kurt Rippholz told just-auto.

According to Rippholz, the company will produce two more new cars at Chakkan, starting in 2010.

He said: "The first car will be a hatchback based on the Polo platform which is under development at the moment and will be introduced in the first half of 2010. The second one will be a sedan and it will be introduced some few months later".

The Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi brands sold 15,232 units in India in January-September this year, up 70% on the 8,967 units sold in the same period last year. VW hopes to sell over 20,000 by the end of 2008.

Having invested over US$300m in the new plant, VW is now focusing on increasing its dealerships around the country and has targeted about fifty by the end of 2009.

"In the long term, the Volkswagen Group aims for a market share in India that is at par with the market share VW enjoys worldwide, approximately 10%", Rippholz said.

The early opening has not affected VW's investment budget.

"Volkswagen India's current investment and expansion plans are as per the recent plan", Rippholz confirmed.

Kevin Jacobs