On the very same day 65 years ago, the first South African-built Volkswagen rolled off the assembly line in Uitenhage.
The company was founded in 1946 as South African Motor Assemblers and Distributors (SAMAD), and at that time, the factory assembled at least 12 Studebakers a day. Today, the factory has grown to a daily capacity of 600 cars for local and international markets.
Over the past 65 years, more than 3.4 million vehicles have been built at the Uitenhage Factory. The factory has become an integral part of the Volkswagen production network, and as such it has been awarded numerous export orders by the parent company. The current two top-selling passenger models, Polo and Polo Vivo, are produced at the Volkswagen factory in Uitenhage.
The world, and more specifically South Africa, have changed over the past 65 years. The political and economic landscape has changed dramatically, and Volkswagen has grown from a small German company assembling the Beetle to the largest Automobile Company in the world. But the one thing that has remained constant is Volkswagen in the Eastern Cape. Volkswagen has become entrenched in the minds of South Africans as the people’s car, manufacturing and selling iconic vehicles with catchy, heart-warming adverts.
VWSA continues to invest in the economy with R4.5million being invested in 2015 alone. VWSA is the largest private sector employer in the Eastern Cape and contributes substantially to all facets of the local economy. VWSA is also the single largest investment in Sub-Saharan Africa by a German company.
Not only does VWSA impact the economy but also the community in which it operates. Through the Community Trust, VWSA provides support and financial assistance to schools and projects in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
“Our company vision is to provide sustainable mobility for Africa with German engineering and a South African heart. At the centre of this company is, and always will be, the exceptional people who build and sell our vehicles. Without them we would not have made it to where we are today, 65 years later,” said Thomas Schaefer, chairman and managing director of Volkswagen Group in South Africa.