Volkswagen AG (VOW) raised output at its Slovak unit 1.5 percent to a record last year as demand for the models made in the former communist country held strong even as the recovery in western Europe has been fragile.
The plant located in Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, assembled 426,313 vehicles in 2013 compared with 419,888 cars in the previous year, Albrecht Reimold, the unit’s chief executive officer, told reporters today. Sport-utility vehicles accounted for 51 percent of the total, with sub-compact city cars making the rest.
“We are operating on the edge of our production capacity,” Reimold said. “The year 2014 will be a huge challenge. We are aiming for similar production” as in 2013.
Europe’s largest carmaker is boosting output in the eastern country, seeking to benefit from its euro adoption combined with lower labor costs than in western Europe. Volkswagen plans to invest 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion) between 2012 and 2016 to expand the facilities in Bratislava, and it has already spent about 600 million euros of it.
The carmaker assembles Volkswagen Touareg and Audi-brand Q7 SUVs as well as bodies for the Porsche Cayenne in Bratislava. In 2011, it added the New Small Family line of city cars, made for the Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda brands. About a third of production was shipped outside Europe, led by China and the U.S.
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