Port Elizabeth - While South Africa’s new vehicle market is in a downward spiral, the local manufacturing industry has managed to thrive, largely because of lucrative export contracts.

South Africa’s top automotive export is also one of the country’s best-selling cars and it’s none other than the Volkswagen Polo hatchback, which has been built in Uitenhage through four generations since 1998.

The factory recently celebrated a milestone, with the 200 000th export unit of the current-generation Polo rolling off the production line last Friday, January 31. This, incidentally, brings VWSA’s total export tally to 1 098 960 vehicles. 

The local division also reached a production record of 161 954 vehicles last year, comfortably surpassing the previous record of 137 758 vehicles.

If we crunch the Naamsa sales numbers, the Polo was South Africa’s biggest automotive export in the fourth quarter of 2019, with a monthly average of 9609 units shipped abroad.

It was followed by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (6113), BMW X3 (5010), Ford Ranger (4910) and Toyota Hilux (2672).

VWSA is the world’s sole supplier of right-hand-drive Polos, and it produces left-hand-drive units for some markets. The company also builds the Polo Vivo, which is based on the previous-generation Polo, for the local market.

“As a company we had many reasons to be proud in 2019, and this milestone sets the tone for another strong year ahead,” said VWSA Chairman Thomas Schaefer.

“We intend to build on our strong performance in 2020, both in the local and export markets, and we remain committed to delivering excellence to all our customers and the larger community.”

IOL Motoring