SHANGHAI -- Volkswagen may outsource production of some of its best-selling cars in China to relieve pressure on a Shanghai plant working overtime to keep pace with booming car sales, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
Shanghai Volkswagen, a joint venture plant, made 32,200 cars in April, up 25 percent on the year, he said. Sales in the first four months jumped 80 percent to 128,214, but that was markedly slower than the market's overall expansion.
Car output in the country -- which in China corresponds very closely with actual sales -- leapt 110 percent in the first four months from a year ago to 565,400, state media said last week.
"Because of production constraints we could well outsource manufacture of some models, including the Santana and Gol," Shanghai Volkswagen spokesman Lu Jun told Reuters.
"We are considering 10 possible sites, one of which is Yizheng," Lu said, declining to name the other places. "They have to be close to Shanghai."
Shanghai Automotive Co. Ltd., a listed arm of Volkswagen's partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, already puts together multi-purpose vehicles at a plant in Yizheng, which is in Jiangsu province adjacent to Shanghai.
Volkswagen's sales this year are expected to race up to 600,000 from 513,000 in 2001, helped by the launch of new and revamped models, including the Golf compact car and a new version of the Shanghai-built Polo.
Sales in China, its top market outside Germany, jumped 86.7 percent higher on year to 162,000 in the first quarter.
The Santana was one of the first Volkswagen cars to be made in China. Its popularity has helped the company capture some 40 percent of the domestic car market, a haven for global automakers at a time of depressed world sales.
Volkswagen aims to make 30,000 to 40,000 of its low-priced Gol this year, company executives have said.
Volkswagen's Changchun plant in northeast China, a venture with First Automotive Works, is planning to raise output capacity to 300,000 by the end of 2003, from 200,000 at present.