Volkswagen is stepping up efforts to find a production base in South East Asia and will send a team of 20 people led by the VW group’s head of overseas manufacturing Christof Spathelf to ASEAN countries to look for suitable locations for its production base, or possibly multiple production bases.
The scenario could be either base or bases because according to sources, Vee-Dub’s top executives are having internal debates on whether to pick one single factory that can produce between 120,000 to 150,000 cars a year, or choose several bases – up to 5 factories in 5 countries to assemble CKD kits. VW group production head Jochem Heizmann said the ASEAN market is very varied from country to country – Thailand is a strong market for pickups while Malaysia is a strong passenger car market.
Because of this scenario, there may just still be hope for CKD Volkswagen cars here in Malaysia. One thing’s for sure – Volkswagen wants to try to enter without substantial investments so we may see some form of JV at least in terms of production capacity sharing with the owner of an existing plant.
Volkswagen predicts the ASEAN market countries will collectively hold a sales potential of 3 million new cars per year by 2018 from 1.7 million in 2007. ASEAN is considered a “gap in the map” that has to be filled in Volkswagen’s plans along with Russia and India.