Next-gen VW Golf to be built in Mexico starting in 2014

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Have you ever compared the interior of a Volkswagen Golf hatchback or wagon to that of a new Jetta sedan? It's a night and day experience, with the Golf winning on materials quality by a long shot and fit and finish, too. Where the Golf appears capable of doing battle with premium branded compacts from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the new Jetta is barely able to save face in front of its mainstream compact rivals, clearly outshone by compacts from U.S. brands, the Koreans and most Japanese carmakers.

Why the difference? Critics often point to the fact that the Golf is made in Germany and therefore must pass the scrutiny of European buyers whereas Volkswagen de México makes the Jetta primarily for North and South American consumers. Volkswagen AG points to "currency fluctuations and to be closer to the market in which the manufacturer sells" for reasons to opt for production localization.

"The Puebla, Mexico plant offers an excellent economic basis for Volkswagen production operations and is a well-established automotive manufacturing facility with a record of efficiency and high quality," said Hubert Waltl, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand with responsibility for Production. "With its existing infrastructure, competitive cost structures and free trade agreements, Mexico is the ideal location to produce the Golf for the American market."

The Golf's interior is only one of its more redeeming qualities when compared to the much-maligned Jetta, as the Mexican made sedan has cut corners in a number of other areas too. If you're a Golf fan because of its high quality interior and more capable multi-link rear suspension you may not like Volkswagen's most recent news. As part of a plan to build in excess of 75-percent of its North American-bound products here at home in North America, VW will be producing its seventh-generation 2014 Golf at its Puebla, Mexico assembly facility.

"Producing the Golf in Puebla, Mexico signals a continued commitment to the North American market and allows Volkswagen to make further strides towards the goal of building more than 75 percent of the cars Volkswagen of America sells in the NAFTA region," said Jonathan Browning, President, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "For more than 40 years, Puebla has been manufacturing quality Volkswagens for the U.S. and markets around the world and we are thrilled that the next-generation Golf will be added to the production line."

The Mexican-produced Golf will be sold in Canada, the U.S., and throughout South America. Currently, Volkswagen builds its latest Beetle alongside the Jetta in the Puebla plant. Jetta production is supposed to start there in Q1 of next year, with sales expected halfway through next year.

Of course, Volkswagen's Mexican plants shouldn't be implicated in the current Jetta being downgraded over the Golf, but rather decisions made by the automaker's North American division to get costs down in order to make the model more appealing to entry-level buyers, with the results being a big increase in sales. Only time will tell if VW chooses to take the same route with the upcoming Golf, only saying that it will offer "more features, improved safety, and more performance than the outgoing vehicle," but either way the company isn't about to slow its progress in developing North American production.

Volkswagen is planning more than $5 billion in production facility investments in the U.S. and Mexico within the next three years, including a new plant in Silao, Mexico for its 1.8- and 2.0-litre turbocharged EA888 engines as well as a planned Audi production facility in San José Chiapa, Mexico.

Additionally, the German automaker will likely add production of its Tiguan to one of its North American plants, although it's unknown which one will get the nod. We do know that the production version of the seven-passenger CrossBlue Concept shown at the Detroit auto show earlier this month will be built in Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly facility, however, where the German automaker produces the Passat midsize family sedan.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Wagon, Volkswagen, VW, 2014, Golf, North America, Mexico, Compact,

Organizations: Volkswagen

Geographic location: Mexico, North America

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