Coronavirus: Carmakers Put Brakes on Production in Europe amidst COVID-19 Fears

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Fiat logo. (Photo: Reuters)

Fiat brand. (Photo: Reuters)

Worker representatives in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain and Germany have demanded stricter controls on hygiene, disinfection and isolation for workers working heel-to-heel on Europe’s manufacturing traces.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: March 19, 2020, 10:31 AM IST

Carmakers together with Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot and Volkswagen minimize manufacturing at European crops on Monday as they grappled with the coronavirus disaster and diving demand.

Worker representatives in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain and Germany have demanded stricter controls on hygiene, disinfection and isolation for workers working heel-to-heel on Europe’s manufacturing traces.

Audi, Volkswagen’s premium unit, mentioned it was struggling to maintain manufacturing operating at its plant in Brussels as a result of some employees had downed instruments over considerations they have been exposing themselves to the virus.

The subject of the right way to defend staff was now the topic of discussions between administration and unions, the carmaker mentioned.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is halting manufacturing for 2 weeks at most of its European crops to assist defend employees and modify to a hunch in demand, the Italian-American carmaker mentioned.

Italy has been the European nation worst hit by the disaster and the primary to implement a nationwide lockdown, which has now been replicated by Spain and to a lesser extent France because the COVID-19 virus sweeps by means of the continent.

French carmaker PSA, which owns the Peugeot, Opel and Vauxhall manufacturers, additionally mentioned it was closing its European factories till March 27. Renault mentioned it will droop industrial actions in France, closing 12 websites and sending dwelling 18,000 staff till additional discover.

“The continuity of production activities at the group’s plants in other European countries depends on the situation in each country,” Renault mentioned.

‘VERY BAD’ MARCH

The coronavirus disaster has hit the European automotive trade at a time when it’s already scuffling with weak world demand and hard new air pollution rules.

With non-essential providers closed in a number of international locations, together with automobile sellers, and many individuals staying at dwelling, analysts are forecasting a heavy fall in March automobile gross sales and a 4% drop globally this yr.

Marco Opipari, an analyst at Fidentiis, mentioned a number of weeks of closures weren’t an enormous drawback in a European auto trade scuffling with over-capacity, and that misplaced manufacturing might be recovered afterward.

“The real problem is on the demand side. People are not buying cars now, and sales volumes are expected to be very bad in March, with a real impact on automakers’ earnings,” he mentioned.

FORD AND VOLKSWAGEN

Ford mentioned it was closing its plant in Valencia, Spain, for the remainder of this week following a flurry of infections, and would reassess after talks with commerce unions.

“We have had three positive cases of COVID-19 on the Valencia site in a 24-hour period, two of which involved more isolated workers who did not enter the assembly operations,” a spokeswoman mentioned on Monday.

Employees who had shut contact with the affected employees at the moment are in self-isolation.

Last week, some Spanish crops of the Renault-Nissan alliance and Volkswagen’s Spanish division Seat introduced momentary stoppages that would final for days or even weeks.

On Monday, Volkswagen mentioned it had shut down manufacturing at its Martorell and Navarra factories in Spain.

It has additionally lowered its each day output at its Autoeuropa automobile meeting plant close to Lisbon by 16% due to a scarcity of employees after Portugal ordered all faculties closed.

Volkswagen might have to shut its SUV manufacturing line at its plant in Wolfsburg, Germany resulting from an absence of elements reaching the manufacturing facility, an individual acquainted with the matter mentioned.

The firm mentioned on Sunday it was getting ready to droop operations at its plant in Bratislava after Slovakia declared a state of emergency.

Unions on the Czech automobile factories of VW’s Skoda Auto and Hyundai Motor Co have in the meantime known as for a 14-day quarantine for workers, which might halt manufacturing for that interval, information company CTK reported on Monday.

Italy remains to be permitting manufactures to function in the course of the nationwide lockdown, offered they adjust to strict security measures. However, a rising variety of corporations are opting to droop manufacturing.

Last week, Ferrari mentioned it was closing its two crops till March 27, whereas premium brakes maker Brembo mentioned it will briefly shut its 4 crops this week.

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