At a special ceremony in Poland, representatives from the Volkswagen group and Polish government laid the foundation stones for the next generation Volkswagen Crafter factory. The current Crafter is built by Mercedes-Benz, alongside the Sprinter, at Dusseldorf.
The new vehicle is expected to hit the market in 2016. Volkswagen has already demonstrated its Euro-6 compliancy with the current generation using the existing driveline, so we can expect the same 2-litre engine to be used in the upcoming model.
The current Crafter is a poor seller for the otherwise successful brand. It sells around 40,000 units per year globally, less than a third of that of the Volkswagen Caddy (around 140,000) and Volkswagen Transporter T5 (around 150,000). It also falls well short of its sister van, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which sold 134,000 units within a year of last June’s facelift.
Sprinter sales include North American sales, however, which the Crafter currently doesn’t have access to. Volkswagen hasn’t officially confirmed or denied the idea of selling the Crafter in the US, but the development of its own production facility would give Volkswagen the flexibility to enter the market.
Demand for European vans is growing in the United States. Sales of the Sprinter have trebled in five years to 25,240 in 2014, and the Fiat Ducato and Ford Transit have recently crossed over. Volkswagen obviously has big plans for the new Crafter. The new facility has a capacity of 100,000, more than double the current sales.
Up to 3,000 employees will work in the new facility. Volkswagen’s investment will also help automotive suppliers create new jobs. At present, 40 per cent of parts supplied to the Volkswagen plant in Poznań are from Polish companies.
A modern paint shop will be built on the plant site as well as halls for body assembly, vehicle assembly and a supplier park with logistics areas.