Since 1950, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand has been exporting vehicles dismantled into individual parts in order to assemble them in the destination country. This approach is referred to as “completely knocked down” (CKD). Initially, the approach was to open up new markets; nowadays, CKD also ensures supplies to Volkswagen’s global production network – and is a key factor in sales. To date, about 200 million vehicles have been exported to countries throughout the world. About 3 million further vehicles or parts are added every year. The first vehicle to be assembled from individual parts supplied in a box was the legendary Beetle.
The CKD approach may be adopted for a number of reasons; it may not be viable to build a factory in the country concerned, volumes may be too low for local production, the cost of new tooling for a local plant may be too high or customs and import regulations may call for this approach.
This is how it works: all the orders received from overseas plants are collected centrally in Wolfsburg. The supply management team ensures that the vehicle parts are available from the European plants and suppliers. The parts are then bundled and packaged at one of the eight distribution centers, loaded into containers and shipped by sea, rail or air to overseas countries and Russia, where they are assembled. At the distribution centers in Wolfsburg, Salzgitter and Kassel alone, a total of 660 employees work in this area. Other locations are Duisburg, Emden, Fallersleben, Wilhelmshaven and Martorell (Spain). These eight packaging centers ship a total of about 1.7 million cubic meters of goods every year, corresponding to about 25,000 overseas containers. From the receipt of an order, it takes about eight weeks before the vehicle is delivered in the destination country. All in all, about 90 different vehicle projects of overseas plants are supplied via CKD from Europe.