GERMANY: Wolfsburg wins back RHD VW Golfs

By just-auto.com editorial team | 6 August 2007

Volkswagen will move production of some right-hand drive versions of the Golf to Wolfsburg from South Africa, Automotive News reported, citing a German newspaper.

The transfer will boost Golf production capacity at its base factory in northern Germany and will secure around 1,100 jobs, the Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung was said to have reported, citing sources close to VW.

Right-hand drive Golfs for Asia-Pacific markets are currently made at VW's Uitenhage factory in South Africa and the production transfer would take place from mid 2008, the newspaper said.

The report said said a final decision on the production transfer would be taken at the end of September or beginning of October and noted that the German Press Agency quoted VW SA saying the report was "purely speculative", that no decision had been taken on rationalising production of its Golf and Jetta models, and, if a production transfer took place, an alternative model would be produced at Uitenhage.

Automotive News said that, earlier this year, VW made production promises to the Wolfsburg union, in return for support for a longer working week without extra pay, and the RHD Golf production transfer is believed to have been one of the promises.

Producing the model in Wolfsburg would increase output at the plant by between 40,000 - 45,000 units annually, bringing total output to around 480,000 units a year, and secures the jobs of 1,100 workers endangered by efficiency gains and the switch in autumn 2008 to production of the new Golf, the report added.

VW SA has previously produced a proportion of the RHD Golfs sold in Britain.

South Africa is, or has been, a right-hand drive source of BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-class, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and Toyota pickup trucks for markets outside the African sub-continent.