Volkswagen AG will spend $1 billion to modernize its New Beetle assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico, during the next five years.
The five-year plan does not call for any new vehicles to be added to the plant, but the plant could be used to build the New Beetle convertible, said Thomas Karig, vice president of public relations at Volkswagen de Mexico.
The Puebla plant is about 60 miles east of Mexico City. It assembles the New Beetle, the Jetta sedan, the Golf Cabrio convertible and the original Beetle. The factory assembles more than 1,500 cars a day.
The original Beetle is made for the Mexican market and for export to South America.
'For its size, the plant needs a lot of investment just to keep the operation going,' Karig said.
During the existing five-year plan, which concludes this year, the automaker pumped $1.5 billion into the Puebla plant for modernization and preparations for production of the New Beetle and the redesigned Jetta.
The plant dates back to 1964, Karig said. One of its three paint lines, which is 20 years old, will be modernized.
There has been no decision yet on where Volkswagen will build its New Beetle convertible, Karig said, and the company has not said when production will start. But the Puebla plant is the only factory that builds the New Beetle, which was introduced in 1998.
However, Ferdinand Piech, Volkswagen AG chairman, has expressed an interest in developing an American-style extended-cab pickup that could hold five or six people. The Puebla plant would be a natural site for production.