VW's Slovak unit raises vehicle output 2% in 2013

VW Group manufactures bodies for Porsche's best-selling Cayenne SUV in Bratislava.
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BRATISLAVA (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen Group raised output at its Slovak unit 2 percent last year as demand for SUVs and minicars made in the former communist country remained strong.

The plant, located in Bratislava, assembled 426,313 vehicles in 2013 compared with 419,888 cars in the previous year, Albrecht Reimold, the unit's CEO, said on Thursday.

Volkswagen assembles the VW Touareg and Audi Q7 SUVs as well as bodies for the Porsche Cayenne in Bratislava. In 2011, it added the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo minicars. About a third of production was shipped outside Europe, led by exports to China and the United States.

VW said SUVs accounted for 51 percent of total output last year, with minicars making up the rest. "We are operating on the edge of our production capacity," Reimold said. "The year 2014 will be a huge challenge. We are aiming for similar production" to that seen in 2013.

Europe's largest carmaker is seeking to boost output in the eastern European country and benefit from its euro adoption combined with lower labor costs than those of western Europe.

Volkswagen plans to invest 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion) between 2012 and 2016 to expand the facilities in Bratislava, and has already spent about 600 million euros.

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