VW opens new airbag centre in Kariega

Following an investment of R20-million and construction of nearly two years, Volkswagen Group Africa has officially opened its new airbag deployment centre.

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The new facility, based at the company’s B Plant in Kariega, will boost the plant’s airbag testing capacity to 150% of its previous output.

Whereas the existing facility is able to perform 48 tests a week, including three dashboards and 45 seats, the new airbag deployment centre can handle a total of 72 tests, comprising 10 dashboards, two curtain airbag tests and 60 seats a week.

With planning beginning in 2020 and construction taking place from June 2022 until February 2024, the centre totalled an investment of R20-million; R14-million alone was spent on the climatic chamber in which the tests are performed, with the rest of the funds spent on building and electrical supply, cameras, air supply to the chamber, and lighting.

Seen here at the new centre, Gert van der Ham (Product Engineering), Réhan Strydom (Head of Product Engineering), Martina Biene (Chairperson and Managing Director) and Nilesh Bhana (Product Engineering).

The climatic chamber makes use of electrical heaters and two refrigerant circuits to control the temperatures required for the different tests, which are conducted between 90 degrees to -40 degrees Celsius.

At the start of the testing process, parts are delivered, prepared for testing, labelled and photographed. From here, parts are conditioned in the climatic chamber at specified temperatures; once the required temperature has been reached and has stabilised, the airbag is deployed using an electrical current.

Lights and cameras in the chamber are activated so that the deployment can be captured on film, which is then carefully analysed and a report compiled and sent to the supplier. The actual deployment is done in 100 milliseconds; however, the preparation and soaking of parts lengthen the testing process to 6-8 hours per test.

As with the previous facility, the airbag deployment centre will perform tests on the locally built Polo and Polo Vivo models, though the centre will also be able to test future Volkswagen models and perform tests for external customers should this arise.

“Our promise to customers has always been high-quality vehicles, and that includes the safety standards of our products,” says Martina Biene, Volkswagen Group Africa Chairperson and Managing Director.

“This new facility is proof that we remain committed to that promise. I am proud to open this airbag deployment centre and want to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly to make it a reality.”

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