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FAW-Volkswagen launches advanced new Qingdao plant

By Li Fusheng ( China Daily )

Updated: 2018-06-04

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FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co has inaugurated a new plant in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, as one of the joint venture's latest efforts to charge ahead in the world's largest car market.

The plant, which was unveiled last Monday, employs 3,000 people and has an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles, serving as the joint venture's production base in East China and its fourth nationwide. A fifth production base is expected to become operational later this year.

Construction of the Qingdao plant started in 2015. FAW-Volkswagen plans to invest 10 billion yuan ($1.56 billion) in the plant by the end of the decade. "The state-of-the-art plant features flexible production and is scheduled to produce five models, including Volkswagen's Next Generation Bora and two Audi models," said Juergen Unser, vice-president of FAW-Volkswagen. He said the plant is also designed to be capable of producing new energy cars, as the carmaker expects such cars to account for a larger percentage in the country's total car sales in coming years. Built in accordance with Volkswagen's latest standards, Unser said the facility is state-of-the-art in terms of manufacturing and environmental protection.

Its press workshop has the most advanced machinery available from both Schuler AG and China's Jier Machine-Tool Group Co.

The welding workshop features some 860 robots, making it the most automated plant in FAW-Volkswagen.

In its paint workshop, about 80 percent of its air can be reused, cutting its consumption by around 70 percent, and in the assembly workshop, more than 240 driverless carts have been employed to increase efficiency.

The plant is also known for its energy efficiency. It has been rated as a three-star environmentally friendly complex, and a solar power system within the plant has been generating electricity to cut the power bill by around 1 million yuan a year.

He said the accomplishment, which is a result of concerted teamwork, has been hailed as a "Chinese miracle".

"They (the colleagues) are so young, so professional and so energetic. They can be found only in China," Unser said.

The plant's first model, the Next Generation Bora, rolled o, the assembly line last Monday. Bora has been one of the bestselling models in its segment in China, with more than 2.3 million units sold in recent years.

FAW-Volkswagen said the latest version, which is based on Volkswagen's MQB platform, is a brand new one designed to meet the demands of the young Chinese customers.

FAW-Volkswagen launches advanced new Qingdao plant

Compared with its predecessor, it has more dynamic and sporty bodylines and its overall length has been extended by 101 mm, resulting in more legroom.

The model also features more safety features and the latest engine technology, including a start-stop system and a brake energy recovery system.

In addition to offering more choices to customers, FAW-Volkswagen said the plant will also help to promote the development of the automotive industry in Qingdao.

Among other achievements, the plant has attracted dozens of automotive suppliers to the city, which has resulted in investments of 5 billion yuan and brought a large number of skilled technicians.

FAW-Volkswagen said such a plant as well as its suppliers will give a boost to local economic development in the city and mark Qingdao's rise as one of the important car manufacturing bases in the country.

FAW-Volkswagen has three other new manufacturing facilities that will start operation this year; they are located in Changchun, Jilin province; Tianjin; and Foshan, Guangdong province. The carmaker said putting four plants into operation within a year is something unprecedented in its history and even in the automotive industry.

When all of them become operational, FAW-Volkswagen will offer 18 models in China, doubling the number of models it offered in 2012. It expects to offer 45 models in the country by around 2025.


 FAW-Volkswagen launches advanced new Qingdao plant

Juergen Unser, vice-president of FAW-Volkswagen. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 06/04/2018 page19)