Share of total production 2008 in percent
Vehicle production locations of the Volkswagen Group – Share of total production 2008 in percent (map)

In 2008, the Volkswagen Group opened additional production facilities and handled a large number of start-ups. Given the tense situation in the markets, productivity increases are nevertheless imperative. The worldwide implementation and refinement of Volkswagen’s production system with uniform methods and standards for all brands and locations of the Volkswagen Group will drive forward this progress.

Large number of start-ups in 2008

Our model initiative gave rise to numerous production start-ups in 2008. The new flagship models under the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand included the Passat CC, the Gol, the Scirocco, the Routan and the new Golf, which is the Group’s highest-volume model. For the Audi brand, the principal start-ups were the Audi A3 Cabriolet, the Audi A4 Avant and the Audi Q5. The SEAT brand began producing the new Ibiza, the Ibiza Sport Coupé and the Exeo, while Škoda launched the Superb and the Fabia saloon. The start of production of the Brooklands was one of the most important events of the year for the Bentley brand.

Flexible use of production locations

Following the consolidation of Scania, the Volkswagen Group has 61 production facilities spread across Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia. Vehicles are manufactured at 41 of these plants. Our primary objective is with a firm focus on value creation, while at the same time ensuring in particular that resources are used efficiently. We secure key advantages in terms of competitive production with our turntable concept, for example, which enables us to flexibly adapt production at our plants to suit demand. In the future, the ability to produce several models on a single production line will become a critical success factor.

The modular component concepts, which accelerate the development of new vehicle models and derivatives, allow the same modules and subassemblies to be used in different vehicles. These concepts give us the flexibility we need to react to fluctuations in demand in good time.

The Scania brand’s unique modular system ensures cost-effectiveness, growth and competitiveness. In addition, it enables highly flexible production: for example, a truck is a combination of a driver’s cab, the engine, a drivetrain and the chassis. The modular system allows a huge number of models to be made using only a small number of different components, permitting vehicles to be tailored to meet customers’ individual wishes. The system is aligned with the brand’s core competencies and has now been rolled out to all production locations. This has created a uniform framework for manufacturing, allowing production volumes to be switched flexibly between sites. The modular system also allows uniform environmental standards to be complied with at all production locations.

Volkswagen’s production system delivers process and organizational advantages

In view of the current economic situation and the growing intensity of competition, it is becoming increasingly important for us to ramp up productivity throughout the entire Company. In order to ensure the competitiveness of our brands and facilities and thus protect jobs for the long term, we have set ourselves the goal of raising our productivity by 10% per year. We are calling on all employees to become actively involved in developing innovative solutions and make concrete proposals for improving the organization of their workplace in order to help safeguard the future of the Volkswagen Group.

The “Volkswagen Way” works agreement describes the end-to-end development process of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand as a means of improving quality and productivity in particular and increasing satisfaction among our customers and employees. At the heart of the Volkswagen Way is a consistent, systematic organization of work and processes that we will achieve through a uniform Group-wide production system and the continuous improvement process.

The uniform Group-wide production system will be developed and introduced on the basis of the best insights and results that we obtained in internal and external peer comparisons. The goal is to make the Group a more efficient company with a lasting focus on process chains and to steer it in the direction of a self-learning organization. This primarily involves standardizing and refining products, workflows and equipment, as well as structures – based on best practice in the Group in each case.

The production system is based on the continuous improvement process (CIP) methodology: with the mandate of being more efficient than the competition, the CIP is aimed at eliminating waste permanently and optimizing working methods. This tool uses the expert knowledge and skills of all employees involved to improve business processes continuously in line with the Company’s objectives. In the CIP cascade, processes are optimized directly and indirectly during four stages – this also applies in the early project phase to product design and investments. To this end, CIP workshops were conducted at the Group’s facilities worldwide and moderators were specially trained.

Production research

To enhance the value and benefit of our products for customers and also increase customer satisfaction as a result, the production research and process development areas are tasked with creating innovations that are reliable, high quality and economically viable. Examples of these can be found in the electronics area, in innovations for reducing fuel consumption or CO2 emissions, or in lightweight construction.

In the future, vehicles will not only have to demonstrate good fuel economy; they will also have to be increasingly efficient as regards energy, raw materials and emissions in the production stage as well. To meet this challenge, we set up a center of excellence for automotive production in Chemnitz in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute. Here, scientists and engineers from Volkswagen and Fraunhofer will research innovative and energy-efficient production technologies and processes in the future to develop competitive advantages for the Volkswagen Group.

Production milestones in 2008

The series of anniversary celebrations kicked off in January at the SEAT plant in Martorell, Spain, which celebrated the production of the 16 millionth vehicle on January 25, 2008. February 2008 proved to be a particularly eventful month in terms of production milestones: in the first week, Volkswagen de Mexico produced the one millionth New Beetle in Puebla and the one millionth direct shift gearbox rolled off the production line in Kassel. AUDI AG ’s engine plant in Györ, Hungary, produced its 15 millionth engine. On May 7, 2008, the one hundred thousandth Golf destined for export was produced in South Africa. In October 2008, the Škoda plant in Mladà Boleslav, Czech Republic, built the five millionth vehicle since joining the Group. Volkswagen AG’s engine plant in Salzgitter also reached the 45 million mark in November 2008.

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