Volkswagen restarts production as European car factories reopen

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 1:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 1:02 pm

Volkswagen has restarted production of its Mk8 Golf at its Wolfsburg factory - the latest European car maker to confirm it is reopening its plants.

The German car maker said that production would restart on a staggered basis with reduced capacity and extended cycle times as it aims to restart production while protecting staff.

BMW has also reopened its engine plant in Germany and announced plans for work to resume at its Goodwood facility soon, with Mercedes, Jaguar Land Rover, Fiat and the Nissan-Renault alliance also planning staged reopenings.

There are plans for several UK car factories to restart production in coming weeks.

Staged resumption

Volkswagen says that this week will see around 8,000 staff return to work, with production capacity at around 10 to 15 per cent of normal. Workers on a single shift will start building the new Golf, with production of the VW Tiguan, Touran and Seat Tarraco restarting on Wednesday.

The firm said it expected to produce around 1,400 cars this week, with production ramping up to around 6,000 - 40 per cent of usual capacity - by the end of next week.

It has put in a 100-point plan to protect workers returning to the factory. This includes measures such as employees carrying out a health checklist every morning before they leave for work; distance markers on floors; mouth and noise protection equipment and the use of mobile plexiglass partitions.

At the same time VW restarted production at Wolfsburg, BMW reopened its engine plant in Germany with similar health protocols in place and Mercedes plants in Sindelfingen and Bremen began to gear up for restarting production.

UK plants set to reopen

BMW has said it aims to restart work at its Rolls-Royce factory in Goodwood on May 4 but MINI production at its Oxford plant will not begin until May 18 at the earliest.

Nissan, which builds the Qashqai and Leaf in the UK, has said it is piloting safety measures at the Sunderland factory but hasn’t said when work will restart there. The factory is currently making protection equipment for healthcare workers.

Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed that work will resume at its UK plant in Solihull from May 18, with Aston Martin aiming to reopen its St Athans factory on May 5.

Jaguar Land Rover's Solihull plant will resume production on May 18 (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Vauxhall is in the final stages of preparing its Ellesmere Port factory for reopening but has not confirmed a date for production of the Astra to resume.

Elsewhere in Europe, Toyota has reopened its manufacturing plant in Valenciennes, France, and Fiat has resumed production at its Sevel plant in Italy. Work is also resuming at Nissan’s Barcelona factory and its partner firm Renault’s Cleon plant near Paris.