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Africa|Energy|Export|Generator|Generators|Ports|Power|SECURITY|Solar
africa|energy|export|generator|generators|ports|power|security|solar

Volkswagen spends big to counter loadshedding as it becomes sole Polo supplier

Image of VWSA MD Martina Biene

Martina Biene

7th February 2024

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Volkswagen Group South Africa, now trading as Volkswagen Group Africa (VWA), is investing R55-million to generate 3 MW in additional solar energy for its assembly plant in Kariega, in the Eastern Cape, says MD Martina Biene.

The panels will be installed on the car ports in the employee car park.

VWA production director Ulrich Schwabe says this means the local arm of the German vehicle maker will have 6.3 MWp in solar energy installed by the end of this year, in an investment totaling R89-million, across its facilities in Kariega, as well as in Centurion and Sandton, in Gauteng.

“Our expectation is that, in 2024, we would have installed more than 6 MW,” notes Schwabe. “This means that, at around lunch time, we can cover 50% of our electricity needs in production. And this is just a first step.”

He notes that VWA has the ambition for the Kariega plant to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Schwabe adds that VWA has also been forced to rent a backup diesel generator plant with a capacity of 16 MW for the Kariega facility for the next two years.

This comes at an additional cost of R130-million, with the diesel for the generator carrying a R1.6-million-a-day price tag.

The generator will provide power to the plant during loadshedding and other outage periods.

VWA’s plant is not exempt from loadshedding, and experiences it from level five and upwards.

Schwabe says the generators are to provide security of energy supply when the sun is not shining, as well as at night.

“Last year we were hit quite hard, with 23 shifts lost, or 11 production days.

“As the now sole supplier of the Polo, our order book is completely full for the next two years. We can now securely run the plant for the next two years. This answers the trust the brand has given us.

“It is not a cheap exercise, but it is much better than losing trust and not being a reliable supplier,” says Schwabe.

VWA currently produces the Polo and Polo Vivo for the local and export markets.

Biene announced this week that VWA will become the sole supplier of the Polo to all global markets, except China, from June this year.

“We have proven that we can do it, and this makes us very proud.”

VWA last year exported 101 557 Polos from Kariega – 3 500 more than in 2022.

The expectation is that the Eastern Cape plant will see a 10 000-unit production increase this year on the back of the added Polo numbers. 

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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