VW to boost operations at Poland plant

Hannover. Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, VW group's commercial vehicles division, plans to expand operations at its plant in Poznan, Poland.

At the official production launch of the T5 van series, Automobilwoche learned that Poznan factory officials expect to win new orders for specially converted vehicles and for metals castings for VW group passenger cars.

Jörn Reimers, plant manager at Poznan, hopes to win castings orders for the VW Passat and the Audi A6.

Reimers is also enthusiastic about new fleet business, such as converting T5 vans into mail, fire service or refrigeration vans. Recently, VW modified 770 units of the previous T4 model for the German post office.

"We aim to increase our added value in Poznan continually," Reimers said.

VW’s Caddy pickup truck replacement, which goes into production at the end of this year, will contribute significantly to that effort. Some Caddy parts, including seats, fuel tank and wheels, will be assembled on the same line as the T5.

"Within 10 years an operation building obsolete products has turned into a competitive factory with a state-of-the-art product range," said VW commercial vehicles head Bernd Wiedemann.

The degree of automation at the Poznan plant may be lower than in VW's main commercial vehicles plant in Hannover-Stöcken. But the higher proportion of manual labor is offset by a much lower wage level.

While one working hour in Germany costs about 40 euros, VW commercial vehicle managers say the equivalent amount at Poznan is 7 euros. At the moment, the plant has a workforce of 3,400, which is pojected to rise to more than 5,000 by 2005.

Still, Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge's management board also plans new projects for Hannover. In the near future, about 50 unemployed persons will be given special contracts for the conversion of T5 vans into leisure vehicle.

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