Corona leaves trail of devastation in the automotive industry
Looking at the consequences of the corona pandemic for the automotive industry in Europe, it is clear that initially all companies are affected more or less equally by plant closures. The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) estimates that the decline in production amounts to 1.47 million vehicles; more than 1.1 million workers in the EU and UK are affected by the shutdowns. However, in some places there is a little bit of hope: some manufacturers are just restarting production, others are preparing for it. And in China, production is already humming again. The article gives an update as to the current date, but the situation is changing dynamically.
Audi: has been on short-time work at its German plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm since March 18, and production has been suspended for the time being. Work on the approval of new models, i.e. small-series production, tests and test rigs, is continuing. However, the company is currently making preparations to return to normal routine. Since April 14, engine production has resumed at the plant in Györ (Hungary); initially, several hundred engines per day are to come off the production line.
BMW: announced shortly before Easter that it will extend the production stop for its plants in Europe and North America until the end of April. The company also expects a significant drop in demand due to the corona pandemic. In order to be able to do anything at all, the company now wants to enter into the production of breathing masks.
Daimler: Since April 6, the company significantly reduced the majority of its production in the passenger car, van and commercial vehicle plants as well as in parts of the administration. This is to remain so until April 30. However, the production of powertrains in Germany is to be gradually resumed as early as April 20; in addition, the passenger car factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen (Germany) are then to go back to work. In the meantime, the production services provider Magna-Steyr who assembles the comapny’s G-series of cross-country vehicles has resumed production at its Graz (Austria) plant.
Ford: Already suspended vehicle and engine production at most of its European sites at the beginning of April. Earlier, on 19th March, production was stopped at Ford’s factories in Saarlouis and Cologne (both in Germany), Valencia (Spain) and Craiova (Romania). In the British plants in Bridgend and Dagenham, production will be suspended on 23 March. The car manufacturer now cites 4 May as the expected date for the resumption of operations.
Honda: Sent its employees in the USA on unpaid forced leave just before Easter, similar to Nissan and Toyota.
Nissan: Has suspended its manufacturing activities in Western Europe until further notice. Production in Sunderland (UK) has been suspended since 17 March, and production on the production lines in Spain (Barcelona, Montcada, Sant Andreus, Cantabria and Avila) has already been stopped.
Porsche: Keeps its plants closed also in the week after Easter. There are still bottlenecks in the global supply chains, which do not allow an orderly restart of production, it is said.
PSA Group (with brands like Citroen, DS, Opel and Peugeot): Wants to restart production in Spain bit by bit. Exactly when this will happen depends on the end of the government blockade. According to the plan, PSA plans to operate a one-shift system for 55 days and then a two-shift system for another 35 days.
Renault: According to media reports, the carmaker plans to restart its production in Spain already this week, initially at the Valladolid and Seville sites. Production in Novo Mesto (Slovenia) is also scheduled to restart on 21 April.
Seat: For the time being, the VW subsidiary is producing ventilators. It is uncertain when the production of cars will start again.
Volkswagen: Started reactivating production at its supplier plants this week. From April 20, Volkswagen plans to ramp up production again at its plants in Zwickau (Germany) and Bratislava (Slovakia) production lines, and from April 27, the remaining assembly plants of the VW Group in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Russia and South Africa will also return to work. Starting in May, the VW plants in North and South America will follow successively. The ramp-up will be made in accordance with the availability of parts, government requirements and developments in the respective sales markets. Things are already looking much better in the manufacturer’s Chinese plants – 32 of 33 branches are producing there again.
Volvo: Has extended the plant closures at locations in Europe and the USA by one week beyond the planned end date – initially until 20 April in Europe, at its location in South Carolina (USA) Volvo wants to start up again on 4 May.