Volkswagen resumes Europe’s largest car factory after coronavirus shutdown

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Volkswagen has resumed work at its biggest factory located in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Monday even as inventory levels throughout the industry continue to build up as the coronavirus crisis saps demand.

Encouraged by a decline in infection rates, Germany eased lockdown restrictions and automakers are depending on the country’s ability to trace and contain the coronavirus to make recovery of Europe’s largest economy.

Volkswagen Group, which owns the other auto brands such as Skoda, Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Seat brands, is also resuming production in Portugal, Spain, Russia, South Africa, the Czech Republic and South America from this week.

Its preparations mirror moves by other automakers like Renault, Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

In Wolfsburg, around 8,000 employees started building cars again on Monday, including the VW Golf. This week 1,400 cars will be constructed, followed by 6,000 cars in a fortnight, the automaker said.

Production capacity in the Wolfsburg plant will be about 10%-15% to start with, and reach around 40% of pre-crisis levels in the week after, Andreas Tostmann, VW brand’s board member responsible for production, informed Reuters.

“The restart of Europe’s biggest car factory after weeks of standstill is an important symbol for our workers, our dealers, suppliers, the German economy and for Europe,” Tostmann stated.

VW has revamped its procedures to include extra hygiene measures. Employees are told to measure their temperature and to get changed into their overalls at home, to avoid crowding in factory changing rooms.

Extra markings have been added on the factory floor so that employees are better able to abide by a a 1.5 metre social distancing rule, and extra time is provided so that workers can disinfect their tools and surfaces, the automaker said.

Volkswagen started producing parts in Braunschweig, Kassel, Salzgitter and Hanover in early April and restarted car manufacturing in Zwickau and Bratislava on April 20 and in Chemnitz on April 23.

From May 3 Volkswagen prepares to resume production in Chattanooga in the United States.

The automaker is still working to whittle down inventory levels from before the coronavirus crisis, the automaker said.

Volkswagen stated that around 70% of its dealerships in Germany had restarted as of last week.

Coronavirus has so far infected more than 2,973,264 people and killed more than 206,569 people worldwide.

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