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By Motoring Reporter

Journalist


Made-in-South Africa Volkswagen Polo reaches two million

Milestone production figure comes as the Polo name celebrates 26 years in South Africa having started out as a rebadged Seat.


Despite its European future post-2025 being shrouded in doubt, the Volkswagen Polo isn’t leaving South Africa after said year in spite of Wolfsburg last month admitting that its smallest model will become more expensive and not finically viable against the looming Euro 7 emissions regulations due to be implemented at the same time.

Continuing for now

“At the moment, we have engineers evaluating what that means. But if that is true [the expected impact of EU7 on the price of cars], we definitely won’t invest anymore and we’ll just keep the plan to electrify as quickly as possible,” Volkswagen Passenger Brand CEO Thomas Schäfer was quoted by Britain’s Autocar as saying at the time.

Until an official announcement is made, though, the Polo remains, which remains crucial for South Africa as the majority built at the Uitenhage Plant, now Kariega, are exported to 38 left-and right-hand drive countries.

While soon to be joined by a third vehicle, classified as an “SUV”-type – the other being of course the Polo Vivo – the importance of the Polo is such that after six months of building its millionth vehicle, the second millionth, an Ascot Grey example bound for Germany, departed the Kariega facility on Tuesday (6 December) that holds the distinction of being the sole plant responsible for right-hand drive Polo GTI production.

Where it all started

What’s more, the two millionth vehicle comes at a time when the Polo nameplate celebrates 26 years in South Africa despite the original having been completely different from the “real” Polo sold in Europe.

ALSO READ: Volkswagen South Africa celebrates one-millionth export Polo

Made from 1996 to 2002, the original debuted as a rebadged version of the second generation Seat Ibiza first under the Classic suffix and then later the Playa. Still hugely popular today, a total of 95 385 eventually emerged from the Kariega Plant.

Later that same year, the global fourth generation Polo made its dedut, thus bringing South Africa in-line with the “proper” Polo linage. In total, 282 005 were built at the completion of production in 2009.

The internally designed 6R or fifth generation Polo followed and broke new records with a sales run of 387 201 between 2009 and 2014. The updated version that followed it didn’t perform as well, but still shipped 305 268 units over three years between 2014 and 2017.

Introduced in 2017, the sixth generation Polo, the first to ride on the MQB A0 platform, rewrote the record books again with a massive 422 603 units being built until two years ago when it benefitted from an extensive midlife facelift.

At matters currently stand, the revised Mark VI Polo’s production tally stands at 134 354 with projections of it eclipsing the 200 000 mark well before the middle of next year.

Volkswagen Polo two million units made
Local Polo production started in 1996 with a unique-to-South Africa model spun-off of the Seat Ibiza.

“This is an excellent milestone with which to end off the year. My gratitude goes out to every employee, because we would not be able to celebrate this milestone – and many others we’ve had this year – if not for their consistent hard work and dedication. This achievement belongs to all the members of the VWSA family,” Production Director at VWSA, Ulrich Schwabe said.

Polo Vivo

In addition to the Polo, the Polo Vivo, reimagined from the fourth generation as an entry-level model in the mould as the CitiGolf spun-off of the Mark I Golf, recorded figures of 118 501 for the current third generation that entered production in 2017.

This places it second behind the original that moved 149 745 units between 2010 and 2014, with the updated first generation, made from 2014 to 2017, placing third with sales of 104 938.