The Volkswagen Group is restarting car production across at least three of its mainstream brands, despite highly restrictive lockdowns being in place over much of Europe.
Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda have all confirmed that they are firing up their production lines again after weeks out of action. Volkswagen is focusing solely on its ID 3 electric hatchback to begin with, possibly because the timescale for meeting EU emissions regulations has not been delayed. Fines await those companies who do not meet the targets.
The firm’s Zwickau plant reopened yesterday and will operate very slowly at first, producing just 50 ID 3s per day with a reduced staff quotient, which is about a third of the speed reached prior to the shutdown. Although the Zwickau facility was the first to restart, the Chemnitz engine plant also kicked into gear yesterday.
On Monday Zwixkau will also start phasing-in production of the internal combustion Golf, while VW’s Dresden plant will begin production of more e-Golfs. All staff going back to work at these times will wear face masks that it says will allow workers to operate side-by-side if necessary.
In Spain, Seat is aiming to test some 15,000 employees for Covid-19 in order to send as many back to work as possible. It’s aiming to carry out 3000 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests per week for five weeks and is the first company in Spain to carry out large-scale testing like this. Other VW Group personnel based in Spain will do the same tests in the next few weeks.
Seat’s doors will open again on Monday 27 April, with altered production lines allowing for social distancing on top of their masks and hand sanitiser at every station. The lines being brought back to life produce the Ibiza, Arona, Leon and Audi A1.
Skoda says it has introduced more than 80 “mandatory precautions” for its workforce to allow them to work again from 27 April. No one will be allowed onto the factory premises without wearing a face mask and they will have to be worn at all times, presumably with exceptions for food and drink breaks – although these must be taken separately so that they don’t undo all the other protections.
Working teams on the production lines will be fixed, to minimise any spread of the virus should a worker contract it. Office workers will still work from home wherever possible. Most of the Skoda range will start being built again, but in reduced numbers.