After a R20-million investment and two years of construction, the Volkswagen Group Africa proudly unveiled its new state-of-the-art airbag deployment centre on the 28th of February 2024.

Located at the B Plant in Kariega, this new facility will significantly enhance the plant's airbag testing capabilities, increasing its output by 150%. While the previous facility could conduct 48 tests per week (including 3 dashboards and 45 seats), the new centre can now handle up to 72 tests, including 10 dashboards, two curtain airbag tests, and 60 seats. 

A total of R20 million was invested into this new state-of-the-art centre, with planning starting in 2020 and construction taking place from June 2022 to February 2024. A whopping R14 million was spent on the climate chamber, where the tests are conducted. The remaining money was used for the building, lighting, cameras, electrical supply, and air supply to the chamber. The testing chamber is 6m long and 3m wide, which is large enough to fit Volkswagen’s Monster Amarok. 

In order to maintain the temperatures needed for the various tests, which are carried out between 90 and -40 degrees Celsius, the climatic chamber uses two refrigerant circuits and electrical heaters. The total installed energy consumption of the chamber is 100 kW, with a 26 kW compressor installed for the supply of ultra-dry air.

The parts supplied for testing are prepped, labelled, and photographed before the testing procedure begins. After that, the components are heated in the climate chamber; the airbag is then released through an electrical current after the necessary temperature has been reached and stabilised.

In order to record the deployment on film, lights and cameras are turned on in the chamber. The footage is then carefully examined, and a report is created and forwarded to the provider. The testing process takes about 6–8 hours per test due to part preparation and soaking, although the actual deployment is completed in a mere 100 milliseconds.

The airbag deployment centre will test the locally manufactured Polo and Polo Vivo vehicles, much like the old facility did. If necessary, the centre can also test upcoming Volkswagen products and conduct tests for outside clients.

Volkswagen's Group Africa Chairperson and Managing Director, Martina Biene, reiterated the group's dedication to providing their clients with high-quality vehicles that don't compromise on safety. Biene further stated that the new facility is evidence of Volkswagen's dedication to safety. She thanked everyone who helped make the facility a reality and expressed her pride in the advancements made.

Through this new centre and other innovations, it is evident that Volkswagen continues to keep safety at the forefront of its craftsmanship. 
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