Volkswagen AG (VOW) doubled output of its Slovak factory to a record last year as the introduction of new models offset slowing demand for cars across Europe.
The plant located just outside the Slovak capital, Bratislava, assembled a 419,888 vehicles, compared with 210,441 in 2011, the unit’s chief Albrecht Reimold told reporters today. New Small Family models, which were introduced in late 2011, accounted for almost one-half of shipments.
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’s Slovak unit will seek to maintain the record production volume, depending on market conditions, Reimold said.
“In 2012, we operated on the edge of our production capacities,” Reimold said. “The worldwide market is developing positively. So far this year, we have been doing quite well.”
In addition to the New Small Family line of cars, made for the Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda brands, the Slovak company also makes Volkswagen Touareg and Audi-brand Q7 SUVs as well as bodies for the Porsche Cayenne. More than one-third of SUVs produced in Slovakia were shipped to non-European markets, led by China and the U.S.
Exporting outside Europe helps Volkswagen counter slumping sales on the continent. European car registrations dropped 10.2 percent in February, led by General Motors Co. (GM:US), Fiat SpA (F) and PSA Peugeot Citroen, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, as concern over the euro-region’s economy prompted consumers to defer purchases. Volkswagen’s European sales declined 7.2 percent.
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