Here’s what happens; a car manufacturer flies you out to a location where they put you up in a nice trendy hotel, they feed you fantastic food, and you get to drive their latest and greatest cars (or any other car company for that matter), it’s a proposition too hard to resist. To me, and countless others I’m sure, this sounds like a dream vacation. That’s because it pretty much is.
For those uninformed, media launches are a big part of selling cars. Manufacturers put their new or greatest models in journalists’ hands so they can get their first-hand impressions published.
So, in conjunction with Volkswagen’s 9th year anniversary, they has brought a group of media from various publication to its assembly plant in Pekan, Pahang.
Whereby Managing Director Armin Keller, Marketing Director Martina Berg, Pekan Plan Manager Bruno Torres as well as CEO of HICOM Automotive Manufacture, Shamsuddin Mohamed Yusof.
In order to do this, we have to drive all the way from Rondaevoo, Ativo Plaza, Bandar Sri Damansara and drive their brand new cars on designated routes.
In this case the cars were Jetta, Polo and a Passat. These models are the CKD unit. You should get the idea by now then, CKD cars and their plant. As you’d imagine I was pretty excited.
Before any of that could take place though, it was briefing time about road safety and such.
After the briefing we were handed our car keys. Once there we were split in to two groups – as 24 Volkswagen cars join the convoy. Can you imagine, how long is the convoy?
For this part of the experience I was partnered up with another journalist for the ride. While I like a good solo drive, this isn’t such a bad thing, as having someone to have conversation with is pretty helpful. iGuide (an iPad Mini) are left in the cars and feature turn-by-turn directions and photos of the intersections and junctions. Not to mention, 8gb worth of road trip songs.
After 2 and half hour of journey, we have arrived at their plant to have our lunch and some sort of welcoming ceremony. Keller said: “ This plant is a key milestone for us, as it enabled us to produce affordable German engineered vehicles for Malaysians. Additionally, we have created highly qualified job opportunities here.”
It was built 3 years ago with the RM1.6 billion worth of facility and it’s the first. They have produced approximately 10, 000 units of the Polo hatchback, Polo Sedan, Jetta and Passat last year.
Different from any factory, this plant’s have state-of-the-art Laser Welding System, which responsible to join the car’s roof to the body sides in one go. It also provides a high quality finish and better soundproofing. On top of that, the plant is also the world’s only assembly plant capable of putting together four different models on a single body shop line thanks to the VW Framer equipment. Talking about RM1.6 billion worth of an investment.
I had wondered a lot about what it might be like to actually attend one of these drive, I can say my first was every bit as great as I had hoped it would be – and more. May I please do another?
Words & Photos: Haznajims