, BRATISLAVA, Mar 14 – German auto giant Volkswagen (VW) said Monday it had produced 144,510 cars at its Slovak plant last year, up 36 percent compared to 2009 when the global downturn hit demand for its cars.
The company has also raised the number of its employees by 7.7 percent to 7,000 people, Volkswagen Slovakia chairman Andreas Tostmann said.
Volkswagen, which produces the higher-end VW Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne models, saw its production fall by 44 percent in 2009 against 2008 while it had to cut staff by 17 percent.
The company plans to match its chief rivals in the former communist country, South Korea\’s Kia Motors and France\’s PSA Peugeot Citroen — who weathered the crisis by focusing on cheaper smaller cars — by launching a line of new small family cars as of 2011.
"The year 2011 will mark a milestone for the company that will celebrate its 20th anniversary in Slovakia by launching a new small family car line," Tostmann said.
Volkswagen said earlier it would double its investment in Slovakia to a billion euros ($1.36 billion) in the next five years.
The recovery at the company, which exports 99.3 percent of its production, depends mostly on demand at the German market with a 36-percent share and China with a 18.9-percent share.