Future of new people carrier at Autoeuropa at risk

EIGHT MONTHS after the appointment of new Volkswagen Autoeuropa Director Jorn Reimers, the company is struggling to win a lucrative contract to produce the new MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle) in Portugal.

At the heart of the matter are apparent quality control failures in the overall production process of existing models.

Now that the company, which only three years ago was considering closing the plant at Palmela to relocate it in Eastern Europe where labour and production costs are cheaper, is thinking of awarding the contract to produce the VW Eos, Scirocco and MPV, successor to the Sharan, in Slovakia.

Less than satisfied

The factory, that only five years ago was considered the best plant in terms of quality and production out of all VW factories, has of late been forced to report failures as Portuguese suppliers and garages post complaints and claim that since internal changes things aren’t what they used to be.

Not only that, since the new management took over at Autoeuropa, even the staff have been less than satisfied and have been voicing complaints about the new company culture.

Problems over production quality levels began being reported following an internal VW audit which is using allegedly stricter quality criteria and controls in production as well as management.

The plant was therefore forced to increase its production and reduce production time to overcome the failures reported, namely in the people carrier and family multi-purpose vehicles produced by the company.

The production of these vehicles had fallen from 215 to 175 vehicles a day which in turn has impacted on suppliers.

The fact that the new “iron man” at VW’s head office, Martin Winterkorn, came from Audi, is cited as the reason that expectations and inspections are even more stricter than before.

In a bulletin message in the company’s summer newsletter, Jorn Reimers stated, “we need to formulate clear ideas on how to solve these problems (of quality) that are currently indicated.”

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