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Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

With the coronavirus infection rate slowing and restrictions starting to ease, car brands are restarting production to revive the economy.

5 months ago
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Henry Man
Contributor

As the impacts of COVID-19 gradually slow, automakers are quickly re-opening their factories.

Despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) assessing the global risk level as “very high” for Coronavirus, most factories in China are back up and running.

Europe is gradually reopening and limiting production, but most United States sites are closed.

All manufacturers are contesting with a shortage of parts and low consumer demand, while implementing strict safety protocols in factories to get regulatory approval.

Toyota and Lexus

In its home country of Japan, Toyota has adjusted output due to low demand at five plants.

The Takaoka factory (RAV4 and Corolla sedan), Tsutsumi plant (Prius, Corolla hatchback, Camry sedan and Lexus ES), Tahara factory (Prado, Lexus GS, LS, NX, IS and RC) and the Kyushu factory (Lexus CT, NX and UX ) have previously paused some lines of production for a week or more.

They have since reopened. Sites in the USA, Canada and Mexico will restart on April 20.

Toyota will resume production at its French and Polish plants on April 22, but volume will be limited. In France, Toyota will run a single shift for the first two weeks, down from the usual three.

The earliest start date for its United Kingdom, Turkey, and Czech Republic factories is May 4. In China, its Guangzhou and Changchun bases have returned to a regular two-shift schedule. In Tianjin, one assembly line is on one shift, while all lines in Chengdu are one-shift only.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Mazda

Mazda has limited manufacturing across Japan, Thailand, and Mexico.

The Japanese carmaker says it will completely stop operations at its two plants in Japan for 13 days, then only run day shifts between March 28 and April 30.

Mazda also closed its Thailand and Mexico plants for 10 days, though the shutdown has since finished passed.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Hyundai Motor Group

In South Korea, Hyundai has decided to shut its Uslan plant between April 13 and April 17. Australia gets the Tucson SUV from Uslan.

Hyundai’s Czech Republic factory has re-opened at less than full capacity, with two shifts rather than three. The Korean giant’s Turkish site will open on April 20. The firm’s Alabama site in the USA has been closed indefinitely after a confirmed case from a worker.

Interestingly, Kia has not stopped manufacturing in its home country of South Korea. However, it is considering a hiatus due to weak global demand between April 23 and April 29.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Ford

Most Ford factories are still closed. American plants were originally scheduled to reopen this month, but this has been delayed indefinitely.

European factories are planned to restart May 4. Meanwhile, its Chinese plants are already back online, and have been since February 10. Ford’s Chinese joint ventures have nearly achieved 100 per cent recovery, though some Hubei or Wuhan employees are still facing travel restrictions.

However, the company is experimenting with wearable social-distancing devices that could be deployed more widely. A dozen volunteers in Ford’s Plymouth, Michigan factory are using Samsung Galaxy Watch Active smartwatches that use Bluetooth technology to detect the proximity of workers.

If they come within 1.5m of each other, the built-in app will alert the worker and also record the number of interactions on a given day.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen plans to gradually reopen its major passenger car Zwickau and Bratislava (Slovakia) factories from April 20.

These two plants are responsible for the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Citigo-e, Volkswagen Touareg, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, and plug-in-hybrid versions of the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7.

However, production is limited due to supply issues from China and government requirements. As with other brands, comprehensive health checks on factory workers will be implemented.

Other sites in Germany and Portugal, Spain, Russia, and the USA will open from the week of April 27. In May, production in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico will resume.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles built in Hanover, Poznań, and Września will restart on April 27.

The German conglomerate kept component operations across five German sites open during the outbreak to ensure parts were still supplied to China.

In China, all production plants are online and adjusting output according to demand such as by moving to one shift instead of two.

Audi has restarted limited engine production in Gyor, Hungary, but has not reopened its main car production facility. Around 100 workers now work on one engine line. \

It plans to gradually open a new line week-by-week.

The electric motors for the Audi e-Tron are made in Gyor. Production in Brussels and Neckarsulm will restart on April 20, while the Ingolstadt site resumes on April 27.

Porsche has decided to extend the hiatus at its Zuffenhausen and Leipzig plants for at least one more week due to supply bottlenecks.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Honda

Honda’s manufacturing has stopped in the USA and Canada until at least May 1.

Meanwhile, factories in Britain, Thailand (the main source for Australian Hondas), and some in Japan have ceased until further notice.

Co-owned with the Dongfeng Motor Group, all Honda factories in China including its Wuhan site resumed from March 11, and are now operating at full capacity.

SAIC Motors

SAIC Motors, which includes MG and Great Wall, has resumed all factories in China.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi

Renault’s plant in Portugal has restarted, and the group plans to open its Romanian site on April 21. Russian operations have gradually restarted, too.

Nissan has halted its Sunderland factory in the UK, though it has resumed all factories in China.

Mitsubishi has temporarily suspended production at its Mizushima Plant site in Okayama, Japan due to parts shortages. A potential opening date may be April 23rd, though it’s unconfirmed as of publication.

Its partner, the Guangzhou Automotive Group, is back running in China.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Groupe PSA

All European factories that produce Peugeot, Citroen, and Opel/Vauxhall vehicles are planning to resume operation. Groupe PSA previously cited March 27, though it has been delayed since. 

The conglomerate’s factories could reopen in a matter of weeks, but it hinges on safety audits being successful.

Peugeot-Citroen’s Chinese joint venture partner, Dongfeng, has started production at its Wuhan plant, the previous epicentre of the virus, along with Chengdu and Xiangyang factories.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Daimler

Mercedes-Benz’s parent, Daimler, could resume production in Hamburg, Berlin, and Untertuerkheim next week. Production will initially start in a one-shift system.

Restarts at the Sindelfingen and Bremen factories are also in the works.

Contract manufacturer Magna Steyr says the high-riding Mercedes G-Class is back in production at its base in Austria.

It has also reopened its factory in Beijing, a joint venture with Beijing Benz Automotive.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Tesla

All Tesla plants in the US have been halted until at least May 4. In contrast, the newly opened Shanghai Gigafactory 3 reopened on February 10.

The Shanghai plant currently produces the Tesla Model 3 for the China market only, and may soon produce the Model Y as well.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Volvo Car

Volvo will restart its flagship plant in Sweden and Belgium on April 20. Its South Carolina factory is expected to restart on May 4.

With its Geely partner, all plants in China have reopened across Chengdu, Luqiao and Daqing, including the engine factory in Zhangjiakou. Both production and demand in China are approaching normal levels.

Volvo EV subsidiary, Polestar, has just started production of the Model 3-rivalling Polestar 2 in Luqiao. The low-volume Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid restarted production on February 17 in Chengdu.

Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover has extended its shutdown of UK and Slovakian sites indefinitely, after initially planning to reopen on April 22.

With the UK lockdown just extended, manufacturing may restart later in May.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

BMW Group

Bavarian automaker BMW has suspended all industrial operations until the end of April with no timetable released, yet. Brands include BMW, Mini, and Rolls Royce.

BMW resumed operations at its Chinese Shenyang plant on February 17.

Subaru

Subaru has stopped its Japanese plant until May 10.

In the USA, Subaru has extended its factory shutdown to at least May 8, though Australia is unaffected.

Carmakers restart production as COVID-19 eases

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler (FCA), which includes Jeep, Fiat, Chrysler and Alfa Romeo, is planning to restart production as soon as the Italian government eases the national lockdown.

The company’s Sterling Heights factory in the US, where the RAM 1500 is made, has been shut down indefinitely after a positive case was discovered there.

In China, FCA has already resumed production in partnership with Guangzhou Automobile Group.

General Motors

Like Ford, General Motors (GM) has ceased its factories until further notice.

GM will adapt measures taken by Amazon to protect warehouse workers, such as temperature screening, daily health questionnaires on all employees, and restructured positioning within the factory to maintain social distancing.

Ferrari

While not everyone is scrambling for a Ferrari, it plans to resume its Maranello and Modena sites from at least May 3.

With Italy a high-risk country, Ferrari must contend with the country’s strict lockdown measures.


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