Production at Volkswagen’s Slovakian unit fell to 188,000 cars in 2008 from 249,000 in 2007, a senior executive has said, with demand seen again falling this year.

VW Slovakia CEO Andreas Tostmann told Reuters: “Demand, compared with last year, is falling markedly. We are preparing for a tough year.”

In common with many other auto industry executives, he did not provide any outlook for 2009.

The factory has scaled down production of the large Touareg SUV and bodies for the Porsche Cayenne (which shares some Touareg parts) and will halt overall operation for eight days in April.

Foreign automakers in Slovakia made about 580,000 vehicles last year, much the same as in 2007 after demand slumped in the fourth quarter, the economy ministry said last month.

The Association of Automotive Industries had expected Slovakia to produce 640,000 vehicles last year after output almost doubled in 2007 versus 2006.