Volkswagen SA has announced plans to produce and distribute Brazilian-sourced trucks and buses in South Africa within the next two years. The venture forms part of a R1,2-billion investment by the Wolfsburg-based company in its local subsidiary, and could lead to the establishment of an HCV export programme.

Volkswagen SA (VWSA) has announced plans to produce and distribute Brazilian-sourced trucks and buses in South Africa within the next two years. The venture forms part of a R1,2-billion investment by the Wolfsburg-based company in its local subsidiary, and could lead to the establishment of a Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV) export programme.


VWSA managing director Andreas Tostmann said on Monday that a new truck and bus facility would be established on a site adjoining the Volkswagen plant in Uitenhage. The vehicles will be built on an SKD (semi knocked down) production basis and distributed via a separate dealer network. VWSA and its dealer network will be investing approximately R300-million in facilities and infrastructure.


The marque’s commercial vehicle dealer network will comprise 13 sales and servicing franchises and nine specialist commercial vehicle dealerships – which will offer 24-hour after-sales and mobile service backup. “These dealers will all be at least 25,1 per cent black owned,” Tostmann told reporters.


Moreover, the establishment of the company’s new Truck and Bus division would also result in the creation of 400 new jobs in VWSA’s national dealer network and the Uitenhage plant. “South Africa will be the only market to sell the complete Volkswagen Commercial range - from the half ton new Caddy Panel Van to the Titan Tractor,” Tostmann added.


Phase One of the venture will entail a fully built-up programme (commencing in August 2005) and Phase Two will consist of an SKD production operation for buses (scheduled to begin in July 2006) and trucks (December 2006).


The bus range will include 9, 17 and 18 Ton GVM units. Seating capacity will range between 30 to 60 seats. A typical application will be small, urban commuter and inter-city usage, and VWSA aims to secure about 20 per cent of the local bus market with an annual volume of 200 units.


Tostmann added: “We will market trucks in various wheelbases with 9 to 26 GVM in 4 x 2, 6 x 2 and 6 x 4 configurations. There will be three engine models from Cummins, International and MWM.


“We will also offer truck tractors from 18 to 26 GVM in 4 x 2, 6 x 2 and 6 x 4 configurations. We intend to sell an average of 800 trucks per annum and achieve between 8 and 10 per cent market share initially, with excellent growth potential,” he added.


Looking ahead, the establishment of the South African Truck and Bus Division also creates the potential for VWSA to expand its current export programme and provide trucks to right-hand drive countries in Africa as well as South East Asia.


“We are extremely positive about our ability to continue to dominate the passenger market, grow our presence in the Light, Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle markets and further expand our export business,” Tostmann said.


“Our five-year plan going into the future illustrates our confidence and ability to be a domestic and global supplier of high quality passenger and commercial vehicles,” he concluded.