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The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand

Product line organisation

‘There is a stronger sense of working together’

Andreas Krüger took over management of the G1 product line in September. “I was on the road quite a bit in the first weeks and visited a lot of sites,” says Krüger, as he meets inside for an interview in Wolfsburg.

Andreas Krüger enthuses about the new Polo: “It’s bigger than ever before, but still beautifully easy to handle.”

Mr. Krüger, the new Polo has been the ­dominant issue for you in the G1 product line over the past few months. Now that the car will soon be on the road, will things become quieter for you?
No, not at all. Remember, we are currently still in the ramp-up phase. Based on SOP, it usually takes around 14 weeks per site for us to produce the planned number of units in high quality.

During this phase, do you still fear that unexpected problems may crop up somewhere?
Fear is the wrong word. The Pamplona, Uitenhage and Anchieta sites, where the Polo is being built, are well equipped. The launch was well prepared, and the product has the right quality. But of course, we regularly visit our colleagues on site so that we can remedy any launch problems as quickly as possible.

» Quality comes before speed. And quality begins early in the planning stage.«

What are the next projects in store for your product line?
There is still plenty to do. In addition to the Polo, there are a few other vehicles which we at G1 will be bringing onto the roads in the next few months – including for example the Virtus and the up! GTI. And the Polo will continue to keep us busy as well, as the annual model update is also managed by us in the product line. And at some point, a new product upgrade will be due, and that will also be our responsibility.

It will soon be two years since Volkswagen introduced the product line structure. Was this step successful, in your view?
Yes, absolutely. In my first few weeks as a product line manager, I have been very excited to see how well the employees in the product line are linked up to their colleagues in the specialist departments. Compared to how it was before, there is now a stronger sense of togetherness, which is moving the company forward. Even though there is certainly some potential for improvement in a couple of places – for example, in the early phase of a vehicle project.

The Product Line Small

The Polo

The sixth generation of the bestseller has been in production at the Pamplona, Uitenhage and Anchieta plants for a few weeks now.

The up!

The up! has been produced at the Bratislava plant since 2011. The up! GTI will go on sale in a few weeks.

The Jetta

The sedan was the most frequently delivered Volkswagen model in Asia in 2016. The Jetta is manufactured in the Chengdu plant.

What has to be improved there?
We have to draw up our projects precisely in order to bring them precisely to their goal. The art is to take enough time in advance to do this. Quality comes before speed. And quality begins very early on in the planning stage. For this, we need concept conclaves involving colleagues from all the departments: developers, designers, purchasers, finance people, production staff, quality assurance people, and salespeople.

With small cars, as you know, it is ­particularly hard to achieve good returns.
That’s true. We do business in an environment in which the competition is brutal.

 

Andreas Krüger

has been at Volkswagen since 1991. Following various positions in Germany, Brazil and China, the qualified ­industrial and electrical engineer took over management of the Pre-production Center in 2012.

How does this influence your work?
Together with our colleagues in sales, we ask ourselves at the very start of a project: What do we need? What does the customer want? And on this basis, we develop the concept for the vehicle. What should it look like? How should it be equipped? It is important that we don’t cling to ­something brilliant at all costs. If we can’t achieve our profit goals with a concept, then we have to rethink it at times. Otherwise, we will have no chance of achieving reasonable results in this class.

As product line manager, you need to be well-informed about everything involved. Are you still able to build cars yourself?
(Laughs) Currently, probably not – it was a long time ago. But I am planning to work a shift in Pamplona or Uitenhage soon in order to talk to colleagues on the production line.
 

We will take you at your word about that, and will report on it in inside.