#TBT: The History of VW’s Storied Puebla Plant

Volkswagen has published their latest edition of #TBT, which covers one of VW’s longest-running plants located in Puebla, Mexico.

Editor’s Note: #ThrowbackThursday is a weekly release by Volkswagen, which covers historic and intriguing aspects of VW over the years. All content and photos are courtesy of Volkswagen. -CM

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Golf MK1 and Type 2 production at the Puebla plant.
Golf MK1 and Type 2 production at the Puebla plant.

As one of the largest vehicle producers on the planet, it may be no surprise to learn that there are 16 Volkswagen brand plants in operation today. One of the longest-running plants is located in Puebla, Mexico. Volkswagen de México headquarters was established in Puebla in 1964. In 1965, the company began the search for a new production site and began building the plant that year. Construction of the plant completed in July 1967 and the first car—the iconic Beetle—rolled off the line in October. Located roughly 75 miles southeast of Mexico City, the Puebla plant is built on an area of over 740 acres and is a significant player in the manufacturing of many Volkswagen vehicles seen on the road, particularly here in the U.S.

Assembly of the VW Tiguan at the Puebla plant.
Assembly of the VW Tiguan at the Puebla plant.

The plant holds a special place in automotive history with its production of the Beetle, or “Vocho” as it is fondly referred to in Mexico. Three generations of the Beetle—the original Beetle, New Beetle, and the “21st Century” Beetle—were produced in Puebla, with the first-generation model continuing to be built there until 2003. Sales of the original Beetle ended in the United States in the 1970s, but remained a popular choice in Mexico. This factory exclusively produced the Beetle from 1997 to 2019, making more than 1.7 million units.  

Bye Bye Beetle at the Puebla plant.
Bye Bye Beetle at the Puebla plant.

Aside from the Beetle, the Puebla factory also produced the Safari (Type 181), Combi (Type 2), Brasilia, Caribe (Golf A1), and others. Today, the Volkswagen Jetta, Golf and Tiguan are produced in Puebla. Following the end of Beetle production last year, the factory will soon include production of a new compact SUV tailored to the North American market.

Classic Beetle and Golf MK1 bodies arriving to the assembly line at the Puebla plant.
Classic Beetle and Golf MK1 bodies arriving to the assembly line at the Puebla plant.

This Volkswagen plant is the largest automobile production facility in Mexico and one of the largest plants in the Volkswagen Group. In 1980, a red Beetle marked the one-millionth vehicle produced at the factory, a milestone of success for any automotive factory, and more than 12 million vehicles have been produced in this plant to date. In 2019 alone, there were 443,435 vehicles produced in Puebla. From the stamping of the body parts to final assembly, this plant is vital to the brand’s North American and global success.

September 12, 1980: This red Beetle marked 1 million produced by the Puebla plant.
September 12, 1980: This red Beetle marked 1 million produced by the Puebla plant.

The Puebla plant celebrated its 50th year of manufacturing in 2017, a milestone that would have been impossible without the generations of men of women of Puebla who have worked there since the beginning. A Volkswagen engine plant opened in Silao in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, in January 2013. Between the two locations, there are about 13,000 employees.

The fourth biggest city in Mexico, Puebla has many interesting landmarks that includes Cuexcomate, one of the smallest volcanoes in the world; the Great Pyramid of Cholula, one of the largest pyramids; multiple Aztec structures; and holds a prominent piece of history related to the Cinco de Mayo holiday. A city with traditions rich in food and art including Mole poblano and Talavera ceramics, Puebla is a beautiful city with colorful buildings and plenty of “Vochos” on the road.

 

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