Amit Paranjape’s Blog

The First Polo Rolls-Off The Volkswagen Pune Plant

Posted in Cars by Amit Paranjape on December 13, 2009

Pune has been at the forefront of automobile industry in India for over half a century. Thus today it quite befitting that Europe’s largest automaker, started production of its most popular small car, from arguably their most advanced manufacturing facility in the world, at Chakan Pune.        

Volkswagen Polo

  

 I was fortunate to visit the Chakan Plant on this important occasion. Got a chance to tour their impressive assembly facility, and also attend the official media briefing by the Volkswagen Management. The Press was there in big numbers, and I am sure there will be a lot of coverage about this event and the new car in the days to come.  The VW Polo, while new to India, has been one of the most popular models for Volkswagen over the years. While the original Beetle was the ‘People’s Car’ many decades back, the ‘Polo’ has been in that league for the past couple of decades in Europe. (Note – The Indian market is familiar with Polo’s sister car, the Skoda Fabia, which is also assembled at the same Plant). The Polo will be formally launched in India at the Delhi Auto Show next month, and is expected to be available to customers by middle of 2010.     

The Polo is quite compact and should fit in quite well in the small car segment in India. The design seems a little conservative compared to some of its other peers in the category such as Honda Jazz, Hyundai i20 and Fiat Punto. The interior feels quite nice and the controls and steering are very comfortable. (VW, like the other large automakers, has standardized many controls (e.g. turning indicator stick,light switches, etc.) across multiple models. Hence for someone like me who has owned other VW cars, these controls feel very familiar). Of course, the real test of a car is when driven – hence its difficult to comment a whole lot at this point of time. But given VW’s legacy, and the reviews I have read from Europe, it would be fair to say that it would be a fun car to drive! A lot also depends on which engine variants VW India finally ends up supporting for this car.         

However, yesterday’s star attraction for me was not the Polo Car, but the Plant facility. As I mentioned earlier, this facility is one of the most sophisticated Plants in the world and has been built with an investment of over 800 Million Dollars (580 Million Euros).  Spread over a land expanse of 550 acres in Chakan MIDC, the factory building itself occupies nearly 30 acres. The facility is designed to produce 110,000 cars per year, once it gets to full capacity. The plant can be reconfigured easily to produce different variants/models. The level of automation is impressive. Presently VW plans to manufacture the Skoda Fabia (production started earlier this year), the VW Polo, and a new Salon Car (to be launched in the 2nd half of 2010). This massive facility was built in a record 17 months. This Plant supports the entire manufacturing process from the press shop, through body and paint shops, to final assembly. Many local vendors have been identified for supplying various parts and sub-assemblies. Initially, the Polo manufactured at the Chakan Plant will have around 50% localization. However this is expected to get to 80% eventually.        

Notes -        

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am a big VW fan, having owned their vehicles for the better part of this decade!        

Image Credit: Volkswagen Press-Kit   

Volkswagen India Website: http://www.volkswagen.co.in/in/en.html        

Wikipedia Entry of the Polo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Polo 

For a terrific collection of photos by Ritesh Madhok, of the VW Polo from this event, take a look at:  http://indianautosblog.com/2009/12/images-and-information-vw-polo-production-commences

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12 Responses

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  1. Dhananjay Joag said, on December 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Hello Amit,

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to be “there” with such a nice report !
    It is certain that we will witness a star wars in future with all international players coming to India.
    We, as a customers will face difficulty in choosing amongst the bests in the market !

    Thanks,

    Dhananjay Joag

  2. tulshi said, on December 14, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Polo, the car without the hole ?!

  3. Amit Paranjape said, on December 14, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Atul – Good one :)

  4. aparna said, on December 14, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    i am sure ranjit will be happy to read this. he is a big fan of vw as we had a passat while in uk

  5. Sameer Mahajan said, on December 14, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks Amit for nice recap. It indeed is an important milestone in Pune’s automobile manufacturing. Looking forward to the miles to go…

  6. Bhooshan Shukla said, on December 14, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I am definitely waiting for Polo / Golf kind of car for a long time. An excellent driver’s car for city commuting is a dream and i hope Polo will fulfil it. Fabia is good to drive but leaves something out. Polo hopefully will not have this “hole”. Most manufactureres “Indianize” their cars i.e. take the fun out of driving and make an appliance like vehicle thats good on value but no personality at all. Hopefully Polo will be different. Its is a tall order for a small car but I am sure Germans will rise to the challenge.

  7. Vishal said, on December 14, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Dear Amit,

    It was pleasure to read your article on VW plant and Polo car. I personally feel that if technical information,price and varients ( if possible) regarding polo would have make your article more interesting.

    Vishal

  8. Amit Paranjape said, on December 14, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Vishal, Thanks for your feedback. The technical information of the Polo that was launched earlier in the year is available on the wikipedia link that I have provided in the blog. Unfortunately, at this point, we don’t know what engine variants will be supported in India. Same issue with pricing (we think it would be a slight premium over the Skoda Fabia). This information should be available next month at the Delhi Auto Show, when this car is formally launched to the market.

    Thanks
    Amit

  9. Abhijit Athavale said, on December 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    If they launch this with the 2 litre TSI and 17″ wheels, it would be an awesome ride!

  10. Amit Paranjape said, on December 17, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Abhijit – I VERY MUCH doubt it. Even the VW Jetta/Skoda Laura don’t have 17 inch wheels! Typically, most models that come here in India have lower powered engines. So dream on! My guess is that they will introduce the 1.4 liter engine.

  11. [...] a massive new plant in Chakan Pune a few months back. Read more about this plant here:    The First Polo Rolls-Off The Volkswagen Pune Plant This facility is presently geared towards manufacturing high-volume cars like the VW Polo and [...]

  12. [...] a massive new plant in Chakan Pune a few months back. Read more about this plant here:    The First Polo Rolls-Off The Volkswagen Pune Plant This facility is presently geared towards manufacturing high-volume cars like the VW Polo and [...]


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