After a month-long shutdown due to Covid-19, major car manufacturers will gradually reopen plants in Europe. The outbreak has been a huge blow for the auto industry, sending it into the worst tailspin since the financial crisis.
Germany’s Volkswagen (VW) which employs about 490,000 people in Europe (the majority of its global workforce of around 670,000) said that production of its passenger car brands will resume at plants in Zwickau, Germany and Bratislava, Slovakia starting the week of April 20. Other plants in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Russia and the United States will restart production the following week, with South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico expected to follow in May.
“With the decisions by the federal and state governments in Germany and the loosening of restrictions in other European states, conditions have been established for the gradual resumption of production,” said Ralf Brandstätter, chief operating officer of the Volkswagen brand.
The company said it has put in place 100 measures to keep the risk of infection among employees as low as possible. Employees at VW plants in Germany will initially work reduced hours.
Major Japanese automaker Toyota said production at plants in France and Poland which closed in the middle of March would resume on April 22, but at significantly reduced volumes.
In France, the carmaker will run a single shift for the first two weeks, down from the usual three. “It is understood that the best way to restart is under no volume pressure, with focus on health and safety,” Toyota said.
Hyundai told CNN it reopened its plant in the Czech Republic on Tuesday with two instead of three shifts. Volvo plans to reopen its flagship plant in Torslanda (Sweden) on Monday. Renault’s production in Portugal has also resumed, and it plans to reopen its Romanian plant next week.
Sports car maker Ferrari said its plants in Maranello and Modena will remain closed until May 3.
Lockdown measures are starting to ease across Europe, with some 300,000 nonessential workers expected to get back to jobs in Spain’s Madrid region on Monday. Germany also plans to ease some restrictions starting next week.
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