VW shows good Karmann

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Volkswagen has saved the home to one of its most famous cars.

Fittingly, it’s with the car that later saved the brand when the Beetle was substituted from the mainstream. Yes, the Golf.

As of March 18, production restarted at Volkswagen’s Osnabruck plant in Lower Saxony. This has only been a Volkswagen facility since 2009, mind: before then, it was the Karmann plant, which used to produce models such as the Mercedes SLK and Spyker C8 Spyder on a contract basis.

Volkswagen, of course, has worked with the Karmann chaps in the past, and not just on the Karmann Ghia. It’s made the Beetle Cabrio, Golfs Mk1 and Mk3 Convertible, Sciroccos I and II, Type 34 and the sublime Volkswagen Corrado. Quite a VW-centric history (and that’s before you throw in Porsches 912, 914 and 968).

Karmann, though, went into administration in April 2009, due to falling demand. Many of its contractors were taking the cabrio or coupe-convertible models Karmann specialised in back in-house.

Volkswagen revealed it had made an offer to buy its old pal Karmann in October – sealing the deal the following month (with rival roof maker Valmet taking on some of the CC-building facilities). And now, production has restarted… with a new Cabriolet version of the Golf.

1250 jobs have been saved, and 1800 people will be employed there by the end of the year. ‘Many past joint projects unite us with the colleagues here,’ said Bernd Wehlauer, Deputy Chairman of the Volkswagen Group Works Council.

It’s a lovely story, that is set to grow: In the future, Osnabruck is also going to serve as an ‘overflow’ plant for the Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman. This used to be served by Valmet in Sweden, but that deal ends next year when Valmet starts making the Fisker Karma (indeed, it’s already started production).

Osnabruck’s total capacity? 100,000. That’s a lot. What else does VW have planned for Osnabruck, then? That’s the really intriguing part: time will tell…

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