Volkswagen To Start Production In Taiwan? Let's See ...

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
volkswagen to start production in taiwan let s see

Taiwan’s Premier Wu Den- proudly announced that a senior executive of Volkswagen met with him last week for a second time on the company’s plans to set up a plant in Taiwan. A little later, Wu Den Said that not one but several foreign carmakers have expressed interest in setting up factories in Taiwan. Why the sudden interest in the tiny island?

Mainland China and Taiwan are getting closer. At least economically. The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is due to be signed in June. Or in July. Or real soon now. The agreement is not without its critics in Taiwan. Some say, it’s is a cover for unification with mainland China. Wu Den needs good news to sell the pact.

Volkswagen is the largest brand in China, and stayed away from production in Taiwan. First, it makes little sense to make cars in Taiwan for Taiwan. Taiwan’s population is around 23m (the size of Beijing) and is declining. Second, Volkswagen has a distributor in Taiwan, Swire Group subsidiary Beldare Motors Ltd., with not much in sales.

What Taiwan has is a reputation for (Japan-influenced) precision manufacture and electronics prowess. Once the ECFA is in effect, whole cars cannot be exported to China yet without incurring tariffs. Parts could. Setting up a precision parts plant in Taiwan that could export to an open Chinese market would make sense.

And this is what seems to be going on. “We will not just focus on the ECFA tariff benefit in deciding the fate of the new investment project. The key lies in whether a division of labor can be created between the Taiwan plant and those in Southeast Asian nations,” said an unnamed official of Volkswagen Group China.

The reports should be treated with great caution. They are fraught with mistakes. There is no such thing as a “Volkswagen China Co.” And Volkswagen is not the world’s largest car manufacturer, as the Taiwanese are being told. Volkswagen was #3 on the (still valid) OICA list of 2008, and was #3 in 2009 according to numbers released by the world’s largest automakers.

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2 of 6 comments
  • Wsn Wsn on Jun 16, 2010

    Hedge against rising costs in the mainland.

  • Advance_92 Advance_92 on Jun 17, 2010

    That's a good possibility. I wouldn't imagine your could get better precision from a plant in Taiwan than the mainland. In addition to a hedge on costs creating additional economic ties with Taiwan is definitely in China's long term interest, and in the interest of a company that does a lot of business there.

  • Norman Stansfield This is what you get when you run races to keep the cars bunched together for more excitement. F1 doesn't seem to have this problem after the first few laps.
  • SCE to AUX Too many cars = more wrecks. With today's speeds on essentially the same old track, starting with half the cars could reduce the congestion at the end. Or maybe it would increase the problem because the herd wouldn't thin early on.I say no overtime - finish at 500 miles and no more.
  • Garagezone There was an Indy 500 yesterday? Hmmmm...
  • Mark Morrison Sad it just reminded me how good TTAC once was … required daily reading.