Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Volvo to Restart Production in Europe Next Week

By Paul Riegler on 18 April 2020
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The Tilt Conveyor at the BMW Factory in Munich

Automakers in Europe – which employ some 9% of factory workers in the European Union – said they would cautiously begin to reopen their plants.

Volkswagen will reopen assembly lines in Zwickau, Germany, and Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday, and Volvo will restart production at its Torslanda factory in Sweden.  Daimler, parent of Mercedes-Benz, said that it will resume production in Berlin, Hamburg, and Untertürkheim, with plants inSindelfingen and Bremen to follow.

BMW is preparing to safely reopen its factories, a spokeswoman for the Bavarian automaker said Friday, but does not plan to do so before the end of the month.

“The health of our employees has the highest priority,” said Volkswagen Vorstand member and head of production Andreas Tostmann. “We are providing safe workplaces and the maximum possible level of health protection with a 100-point plan,” he added.

In Sweden, Volvo Cars will reopen its Torslanda factory in Gothenburg and some offices on Monday. The sole remaining Swedish automaker will offer workers wellness checks upon arrival and the company

Workers entering the plant will be able to voluntarily submit to health checks, and workstations have been rearranged to keep employees at a safe distance from one another, the company said.

“The best thing we can do to help society is to find ways to restart the company in a safe way,” said Håkan Samuelsson, the automaker’s CEO.

In the United Kingdom, Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory – which produces the Astra – has remained open in order to implement a 100-point protocol that includes requires checking employees’ temperatures upon arrival at the plant and asking employees to self-monitor for symptoms.  Other measures include keeping a safe distance between workers, frequent cleaning of tools and work surfaces, keeping doors open to avoid contact with door knobs, and marking the floors of break areas for appropriate social-distancing. 

With the three-week extension of the lockdown in the United Kingdom, however, it is unclear when mass production there will actually begin.

With the three-week extension of the lockdown in the United Kingdom, however, it is unclear when mass production there will actually begin.

Meanwhile, new car registrations in March fell by 50% in March, from 1.3 million to 570,000, the lowest number since the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the figures are expected to be worse for April, given that the economy remained open for the first half of March.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)