* New factory to create more than 2,300 jobs
* Crafter van output in Poland to start in second half 2016
* New plant improves Poland's growth prospects
* VW shuffles production in Germany
* Porsche to spend another 220 mln euros at Leipzig plant
(Adds detail on Porsche production plans)
By Marcin Goettig and Andreas Cremer
WARSAW/BERLIN, March 18 Volkswagen
will spend nearly 3.4 billion zlotys ($1.1 billion) on a new
factory to build the Crafter delivery van in Poland, moving
output out of high-cost Germany in the company's biggest-ever
commercial vehicle project.
With construction due to start at the end of 2014, the new
plant in Wrzesnia, Poland, will employ more than 2,300 people
and start assembling the Crafter model in the second half of
2016, VW said on Tuesday.
VW also shuffled production at some other sites.
Production of the Crafter is currently based at two German
plants of rival Daimler which have been making the
van since 2005 under a co-operation accord with VW that is due
to expire at the end of 2016.
"By taking the decision to build the Crafter in Poland, we
are setting the course for the strategic realignment of our
light commercial vehicles," Leif Oestling, head of VW's trucks
business, said in a statement.
Shifting production to Poland will allow the German group,
which already makes the Caddy and T5 commercial vehicles near
Poznan, to significantly reduce its production costs.
Labour costs in Poland's manufacturing industry amounted to
an hourly 6.65 euros per worker in 2012, about a sixth of the
36.98 euros in Germany, according to the Cologne-based IW
The impact on employment in Germany, if any, was unclear as
Daimler intends to use the capacity so far devoted to making the
Crafter to expand production of its own equivalent model, the
Sprinter, and that was the reason for it to discontinue its
agreement with VW.
Poland's zloty currency edged higher in light
trade after the announcement, as traders priced in an inflow of
euros to Poland in the coming quarters.
Europe's biggest automaker has been adding capacity abroad,
especially in lucrative Chinese and North American markets, to
beef up its network of over 100 plants worldwide.
VW's two Chinese joint ventures will invest 18.2 billion
euros in new plants and products through 2018 while luxury
division Audi is spending over 1 billion euros on facilities in
Mexico and Brazil as it aims for the first time to build more
cars outside Germany than within its home country in 2014.
Sports-car maker Porsche, fully acquired by VW in 2012, will
spend another 220 million euros on facilities at its plant in
Leipzig to make the bodies of the Panamera coupe from 2016,
Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said at a news conference in
Stuttgart. It spent 500 million euros last year to upgrade the
site for production of the new Macan SUV model.
VW said on Tuesday that production of the four-door Panamera
will be focused at the eastern German site, stripping its
commercial-vehicle plant in Hanover of an order to make and
paint bodies for the Porsche model.
Conversely, Porsche will move production of its top-selling
Cayenne SUV out of Leipzig to VW's plant in Bratislava, which
has been making the bodies and interior for the model's final
assembly in the eastern German city, Porsche said.
In another move, VW said it will expand production of the
Tiguan compact SUV to Hanover from 2016.
The move will ease strains on VW's key plant in Wolfsburg
where production of the Tiguan, one of VW's top-selling European
models, is based and has been requiring additional shifts for
($1=3.0344 Polish zlotys)
($1 = 0.7180 euros)
(Additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Greg
Mahlich and Anthony Barker)