Volkswagen Group Africa opens new airbag deployment test centre

29th February 2024

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Volkswagen Group Africa (VWA) has officially opened its new R20-million airbag deployment centre, following a construction period of nearly two years.

The facility, based at the company’s B Plant in Kariega, in the Eastern Cape, will boost the assembly plant’s airbag testing capacity to 150% of its previous output.

Whereas the old facility was able to perform 48 tests a week, including three dashboard and 45 seat tests, the new airbag deployment centre can handle 72 tests, comprising 10 dashboard, two curtain airbag and 60 seat tests a week.

Planning for the centre began in 2020, and construction started in June 2022.

Around R14-million was spent on the special climatic chamber in which the tests are performed.

This chamber makes use of electrical heaters and two refrigerant circuits to control the temperatures required for the different tests, which are conducted between 90 ˚C to –40 ˚C.

At the start of the testing process, parts are delivered, prepared for testing, labelled and photographed.

From here, parts are conditioned in the climatic chamber at specified temperatures.

Once the required temperature has been reached and has stabilised, the airbag is deployed using an electrical current.

Lights and cameras in the chamber are activated so the deployment can be captured on film.

This process is analysed so a report can be compiled and sent to the supplier.

The actual deployment is done in 100 milliseconds, however, the preparation and soaking of parts lengthen the testing process to six to eight hours per test.

As with the previous facility, the airbag deployment centre will perform tests on the locally built Polo and Polo Vivo models.

The centre will, however, also be able to test future Volkswagen models and perform tests for external customers should the need arise.

“Our promise to customers has always been high-quality vehicles, and that includes the safety standards of our products,” says VWA MD and chairperson Martina Biene.


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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