German carmaker, Volkswagen Passenger Cars will restart production step-by-step from April 20. Its Zwickau and Bratislava plants in Slovakia will be the first ones to resume operations.
The OEM says its other plants in Germany and in Portugal, Spain, Russia and the USA will restart production in the week from April 27. Subsequently, in May, production will be resumed in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Ralf Brandstatter, COO, Volkswagen brand said: “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. Volkswagen has prepared intensively for these steps over the past three weeks. In addition to developing a comprehensive catalogue of measures for the protection of our employees’ health, we have also forged ahead with the re-establishment of our supply chains.”
In line with the phase-wise resumption plan, short-time working will kick-off at the Volkswagen plants in Germany. However, the number of employees affected by short-time working will be successively reduced in line with the resumption of production.
Production will be as per the current availability of parts, government requirements in Germany and Europe, the development of sales markets and the resulting modes of operation in the plants. The carmaker will continue to comply with the stringent health protection measures for employees.
Andreas Tostmann, Board Member of the Volkswagen brand responsible for Production and Logistics, said: “We are resuming production and logistics with a staged approach in a well-organised way. The health of our employees has the highest priority. We are providing safe workplaces and the maximum possible level of health protection with a 100-point plan. In full awareness of our responsibility, we are ensuring that the economy regains momentum and cars once again leave the plants and reach our dealers and customers.”
Bernd Osterloh, chairman of the Works Council, said: “We have never experienced a situation like this before. However, I know that our colleagues are fantastically well motivated to start work again. Production is resumed after each works holiday, which is why we have considerable experience with this process. In the light of the pandemic, we need to adapt our routines. One answer is our new agreement on health protection. With about 100 measures, we are keeping the risk of infection at Volkswagen as low as possible. This will set a standard for the industry. But we need to be realistic: at the beginning, the new procedures will give rise to queries and reservations on the part of our colleagues. We have never developed, produced and sold vehicles under these conditions before. This is why I expect our managers to ensure that employees are thoroughly familiar with the new procedures. Taking the time to answer questions is more important now than daily production figures.”
Volkswagen Group Components, the company’s independent business unit under the umbrella of Volkswagen, has already started to resume production step-by-step at its plants in Brunswick and Kassel from April 6, followed by the components plants in Salzgitter, Chemnitz and Hanover, as well as the Polish plants, from April 14, to safeguard component supplies for vehicle production in China.
Thomas Schmall, CEO, Volkswagen Group Components brand: “The step-by-step reopening of our plants was important in order to safeguard supplies to overseas locations. Now we need to restart the entire production network while taking comprehensive protective measures and to supply all the vehicle plants of the various brands with components. The same high requirements for the health protection of our employees apply to all our plants.”
As the company resumes production, it calls upon the experience gained with the production ramp-up at its plants in China where a large number of consistent health protection measures have been successfully implemented. Thirty-two of the 33 plants in China have now returned to production. No cases of coronavirus have been reported among the employees there. Volkswagen says it continues to closely monitor the global situation arising as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Further action will be based to a large extent on dialogue and procedures within the Volkswagen Group and recommendations including those of the Robert Koch Institute.