Volkswagen South Africa says it has resumed building the Polo for both the local market and export, while also restarting production of the Polo Vivo.

In a statement, VW SA said its Uitenhage plant had “resumed its manufacturing operations” following a “gradual ramp-up”.

Production officially restarted on 4 May “in line with the regulations” of Level 4 of the lockdown, with essential employees returning to work in a phased approach.

“The company has since started exporting Polos to various markets, in addition to manufacturing Polos and Vivos for the local market. On-site employees are supported by colleagues who continue to work from home where this is possible,” the company said.

VW SA says it had implemented a 100-point plan to “ensure the health and safety” of its employees, with the plant’s on-site wellness centre having also been suitably equipped.

Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen SA’s chairman and managing director, said the automotive industry had a “crucial role to play in the local and national economy”.

“We are grateful that this role was acknowledged with the decision to let the industry operate and trade again.

“In many aspects, the COVID-19 crisis has eclipsed our daily lives. As such, it must be our main priority at VW SA to act responsibly in every aspect of our business – and this includes, first and foremost, to ensure that our employees can work without risking their health. We will continue our extensive efforts to fulfil this duty,” Schaefer said.

In February 2020, Volkswagen Group SA announced it had produced 200 000 units of its sixth-generation Polo hatchback for export. The news came after the Uitenhage plant built its 200 000th Polo in total (including the local market and export) in September 2019.

In 2019, the Uitenhage plant smashed its production record, manufacturing 161 954 vehicles during the year, beating the previous high of 137 758 vehicles achieved in 2011.