CANBERRA – Volkswagen AG launches its first Chinese-built passenger-vehicle export in Australia for the ’05 model year.

The auto maker is shipping the Polo Classic sedan from its manufacturing plant in Shanghai to Australia as a “trial run” for future China export programs, including more vehicles potentially landing in Australia, Volkswagen Group Australia Managing Director Peter Nochar says.

Volkswagen Polo sedan.

The auto maker said in November it planned to sell the Chinese-built sedans in Australia and launched a pilot program in December sending 600 Polos here to gauge international reaction to China’s products. The car sedan now is available from the country’s entire dealer body, Volkswagen says. (See related data: VW Exports China-Built Cars to Australia)

Nochar points to a number of factors coming together to make Australia the first export destination for Volkswagen’s joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.

"Australia is roughly the same time zone as China; we have a mature, international automotive market with complex local homologation procedures and geographically challenging remote capital cities; so it all came together very well for us to be the first export destination from the Shanghai plant,” he says.

The Polo Classic’s base sticker price is A$23,990 ($16,877) and only includes one option – a special exterior paint – in addition to standard amenities. Volkswagen’s 1.6L 4-cyl. gasoline engine, which powers the entire Polo range for Australia, is the only powerplant.

While other Polos (3-door and 5-door) on sale in Australia offer an automatic transmission, the sedan comes only with a manual gearbox.