ByMatt Poskyon March 17, 2020
factory shutdowns now being the norm,Volkswagen and Toyota have predictably decided to idle facilities in Europe to mitigate the negative influence of the novel coronavirus. VW Group had already made plans to temporarily close assembly lines in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. But said that the entirety of Europe will probably be affected this month.
Toyota was singing a similar song on Tuesday morning, saying it would suspend production inÂ France and Portugal this week. Considering the sameness of these virus-related cancelations, we’ll not bore you with any recapsÂ â€” you know how we got here. Instead, here’s the gist of the manufacturers’ respective strategies:Â
Given that Volkswagen Group was previously aiming to close facilities in the most-affected areas, it’s plan basically involves gradually closing factories in the places it believes are next on COVID-19’s hit list. According toReuters, that begins this week with its Spanish plants, Setubal in Portugal, and Bratislava in SlovakiaÂ â€” it’s also stalling the Lamborghini and Ducati facilities in Italy. From there, VW says it’s going to eventually shutter the rest of its European sites. Most closures are expected to last at least two weeks.
“Given the present significant deterioration in the sales situation and the heightened uncertainty regarding parts supplies to our plants, production is to be suspended in the near future at factories operated by group brands,” VW Group CEO Herbert Diess announced on Tuesday.
German unions have also decided that it’s not feasible to have line workers spaced at distances sufficient to avoid possible contagion risks. VW’s own works council likewise recommended suspending production to ensure public safety.
“2020 will be a very difficult year,” Diess said. “The corona pandemic presents us with unknown operational and financial challenges. At the same time, there are concerns about sustained economic impacts.”
With Toyota, things are a bit more fluid. The Japanese automaker has made plans to stall all production in France (where it builds the Yaris) and Portugal (where it builds the 70 Series Land Cruiser) through the end of the month.Â Toyota said it was suspending output at facilities in line with government guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. That has similarly encouraged it to idle production in the Philippines and ChinaÂ â€” though some of those sites have reportedly reopened.
Interestingly, Toyota seems to be one of the few Japanese manufactures that isn’t suffering major supply issues. Most of its local rivals have had to alter production schedules as parts have become harder to wrangle. By contrast, Toyota’s headaches seem to stem almost entirely from government-endorsed quarantines. But we’re presuming that will gradually become an issue for all automakers.
Despite news of Chinese facilities resuming operations, many sites are reportedly running with a skeleton crew. Plenty of employees are still electing to stay home as companies are being told by their government to get back to work and prop up the ailing Chinese economy. Supply lines will remain wonky for a while until that changes. As such, we’re expecting more brands to announce factory stalls over the next few days due to parts shortages and exceptionally low consumer demandÂ â€” with others closing facilities due to government initiatives attempting to cope with the pending health crisis.
[Image:Â U.J. Alexander/Shutterstock]