The largest carmakers reopen their factories in Europe
Starting next week, the world‘s largest automakers will gradually reopen factories in Europe as restrictive measures in the region hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic are gradually eased. But all this will be done with an emphasis on health and safety, not on production volumes..
Volkswagen said in a statement Wednesday that production of its passenger car brands will resume at factories in Zwickau, Germany and Bratislava, Slovakia, starting April 20, after a month-long production suspension. Other factories in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Russia and the US will resume production later next week, while South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico are expected to resume production in May..
«Decisions by the federal and state governments in Germany and the relaxation of restrictions in other European states have created conditions for a gradual resumption of production», – stated Ralf Brandstätter), COO of the Volkswagen brand.
Toyota, in turn, announced that production at factories in France and Poland, which were closed in mid-March, will resume on April 22, but in significantly reduced volumes. In France, the automaker will only allow one shift to work in the first two weeks, up from the usual three. «There is an understanding that the best way to restart is without pressure on production volumes, but with an emphasis on health and safety», – said in a statement by the Japanese company.
Italy, Denmark, Austria, Spain and the Czech Republic are also starting to loosen restrictions on daily life to curb the spread of the coronavirus. An estimated 300,000 people returned to work in the Madrid region of Spain on Monday. In Germany, some restrictions are expected to be eased starting next week..
A Hyundai spokesman told CNN Business that the automaker reopened its plant in the Czech Republic on Tuesday with two shifts instead of three. The company’s plant in Turkey will resume operations on April 20. Sports and racing car maker Ferrari, one of the first automakers to halt production on March 14, said its factories in Maranello and Modena would be closed until May 3, in line with Italy’s decision to extend most of its isolation measures..
The lifting of the tough restrictive measures will be a relief for the auto industry, which is already facing a sharp downturn even before the coronavirus pandemic forced companies to close factories and stop production in Europe..
But resuming production in busy factories will not be easy. Volkswagen said it has adopted 100 new safety measures to keep the risk of infection among employees as low as possible. The company employs approximately 490,000 people in Europe, with a majority of its global workforce of around 670,000..
«We have never developed, manufactured or sold cars in these conditions.», – said Bernd Osterloh, Chairman of the Volkswagen Works Council.
«This is why I expect our managers to make sure that employees are fully aware of the new procedures. Spending time answering questions is now much more important than daily production figures», – added a company representative.
According to company representatives, production will resume in accordance with the availability of spare parts, government requirements in Germany and Europe, and demand for cars. Employees at Volkswagen factories in Germany will initially work on a shorter schedule.
Volkswagen said it has already resumed production of parts at several manufacturing locations in Europe to secure supplies to China, where 32 of its 33 factories have reopened. No coronavirus cases have been reported among employees in China, he said..