Chinese-made Volkswagens poised for Australia

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Future Volkswagen hatchbacks or SUVs sold in Australia could be built less than an hour away from MGs, Teslas and BYDs in China.

German car maker Volkswagen is considering plans to bring cars manufactured in China to Australian showrooms in the coming years.

Volkswagen is the second-best selling car brand in China, and the Volkswagen Group – which also includes Skoda, Cupra and Audi – operate no fewer than 10 factories in what is the world’s largest car market.

It recently announced plans to develop a range of budget-priced electric cars in China, specifically for that market – and has signed a deal with Chinese electric-car start-up Xpeng to jointly create two new electric VW models.

Now it appears Volkswagen is preparing to lean on its presence in China to sell Chinese-built cars in Australia, at a lower price than it can make them in Europe.

“Yes,” Volkswagen Australia passenger vehicles director Michal Szaniecki told Drive when asked if he could foresee a Chinese-built VW being sold in Australia in the next five years.

When asked if he is thinking of a particular model – but which is yet to be announced and so could not be named – the executive said:

“Plenty. What we hear is now very publicly discussed, that we are looking for the most cost-efficient ways of doing business.

“This is one of the scenarios that we are obviously pursuing as a Group, and as a brand.”

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The Volkswagen Polo Classic

It remains to be seen which models from China are sold in Australia, when they are due, and how much cheaper than comparable European-produced versions they are to manufacture.

Volkswagen has built a car in China for Australia before, the Polo Classic – a four-door sedan version of the city car, introduced in 2004 but sold for less than two years before it was dropped.

The Polo Classic was the first Chinese-built passenger car ever sold in Australia, half a decade before vehicles from domestic car brands such as Great Wall Motors (GWM) and Chery.

Outside of the Volkswagen brand, it has been confirmed the Cupra Tavascan electric SUV – from VW’s sporty Spanish subsidiary – will be sourced from China when it comes here in 2025.

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Only three models in the current Volkswagen range are not produced on the European continent, the Tiguan Allspace seven-seat SUV from Mexico, Polo city hatch from a VW factory in South Africa, and the Amarok ute from a Ford plant in South Africa.

Among VW’s factories in China, one is 100km from Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai, while another in the city of Nanjing is close to a plant owned by MG and LDV parent company SAIC.

Volkswagen will not be the only European car brand using factories in China to lower production costs and reduce shipping times.

Volvo has progressively switched production of Australia-bound vehicles to China in recent years, while BMW (iX3) and Citroen (C5 X) also produce cars there for local showrooms.

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex MisoyannisLinkIcon

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