VW restarts Europe’s largest car factory after coronavirus shutdown
Production capacity in the Wolfsburg plant will be at about 10% to 15% initially
Workers wearing face masks on the car assembly line on the first day of the resumption of car production during the pandemic, at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, on Monday. Photograph: Alexander Koerner/EPA
Volkswagen, the world’s largest carmaker by sales, on Monday said it had resumed work at its biggest factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, to give its workers time to adapt to new hygiene measures to combat coronavirus.
Encouraged by a fall in infection rates, Germany eased lockdown rules and carmakers are relying on the country’s ability to trace and contain Cocid-19 to put Europe’s largest economy back to work.
In Wolfsburg, about 8,000 workers started building cars again on Monday, including the VW Golf. This week 1,400 cars will be built, followed by 6,000 cars in a fortnight, VW said.
Production capacity in the Wolfsburg plant will be at about 10-15 per cent to begin with, and reach about 40 per cent of pre-crisis levels in the week after, Andreas Tostmann, VW brand’s board member responsible for production said.
“The restart of Europe’s biggest car factory after weeks of standstill is an important symbol for our employees, our dealers, suppliers, the German economy and for Europe,” Mr Tostmann said.
VW has overhauled its procedures to include extra hygiene measures. Workers are told to measure their temperature and to get changed into their overalls at home, to prevent crowding in factory changing rooms.
Extra markings have been put on the factory floor so that workers are better able to adhere to a 1.5m social-distancing rule, and extra time is provided so that employees can disinfect their tools and surfaces, VW said.
Volkswagen began producing components in Braunschweig, Kassel, Salzgitter and Hanover in early April and resumed car manufacturing in Zwickau and Bratislava on April 20th and in Chemnitz on April 23rd.
This week Volkswagen Group will re-start production in Portugal, Spain, Russia, South Africa and South America and from May 3rd onwards in Chattanooga in the United States.
Volkswagen further said that around 70 per cent of its dealerships in Germany had reopened. – Reuters